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May 10, 2009

ACP countries slam proposed changes to EU banana tariffs

African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries have spoken out against proposed changes to the EU's banana tariff regime, which they say would harm their exporters.

" We are very disappointed by our partner the European Commission because they are sacrificing development to trade liberalisation," said Gerhard Siwat, the Surinamese ambassador. "We quite often have the feeling that the European Commission does not understand what partnership means," he told a press conference in Brussels on 6 April.

EU banana import policies have been the subject of a decade-long row at the WTO, pitting Brussels against several Latin American banana producers and the US. At issue is the EU's current import regime: a 176 euros/tonne tariff on bananas from most-favoured nation (MFN) suppliers, alongside a 775,000 tonne duty-free import quota reserved for ACP states, many of which are former European colonies. Latin American countries have long insisted that this import regime illegally discriminates in favour of bananas from ACP countries and violates WTO rules on quantitative restrictions. The WTO's Dispute Settlement Body has supported such claims, and Brussels is now under pressure to revise its policies.

Fresh Plaza

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