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November 15, 2009

WTO banana deal emerging

An end is in sight to the world's longest-running trade dispute, involving bananas, and a deal could be in place by the end of the year, senior European and Latin American trade negotiators said. Settling the banana dispute would be a fillip for the World Trade Organisation, whose long-running Doha round to free up global commerce, like other trade negotiations, has at times been held hostage by the decades-old row.

Cesar Montano Huerta, the top diplomat at the WTO mission of Ecuador, the world's biggest banana exporter, said officials were negotiating intensively and even hoped to clinch a deal in the next couple of weeks. The deal, which could be reached before the WTO's ministerial conference starting November 30, would see the European Union cutting tariffs on bananas for suppliers in Latin America and elsewhere. In return the Latin Americans would drop outstanding challenges to the EU at the WTO, and Brussels would provide compensation to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, mainly former British, French and Portuguese colonies, who would lose their preferential access to the European market. The detailed terms are likely to resemble an agreement almost reached in July last year on the fringes of a meeting of trade ministers seeking a breakthrough on the Doha talks.

Reuters

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