Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Monday, March 8, 1999 Published at 22:26 GMT


No truce in banana war

Bananas: First flash point as trade war threatens

A meeting aimed at defusing the bitter banana trade dispute between the US and Europe has failed to reach a truce.

A majority of World Trade Organisation (WTO) members condemned moves by Washington to impose sanctions on a range of European goods.

BBC Correspondent Peter Morgan: The first ever WTO emergency meeting ended in failure
But the US says it will press on with its plan because, it says, the European Union is continuing to favour banana exporters in the Caribbean and Africa over American companies operating in Latin America.

The WTO summit in Geneva was called after the US imposed tariffs of 100% on a wide range of European imports.

The tariffs will only come into effect if the WTO decides the EU's banana policy is against WTO rules.

Ambassador Roderick Abbott, the head of the EU trade delegation in Geneva, said the US had acted illegally by effectively imposing sanctions on European products.

One EU official said that if the Caribbean countries lost their banana export markets then some farmers would turn to the drugs trade.

Edwin Laurent: "US behaviour extremely strange"
And Edwin Laurent, the East Caribbean States Ambassador to the EU, agreed that it was a real fear.

He said: "If there was a loss of the banana industry there would be such economic instability _ it is quite likely that there would be a great escalation in illegal activity and a tremendous increase in the drug production and trafficking."

American officials were adamant that the Clinton administration's actions did not violate world trade rules.

Ambassador Rita Hayes, the head of the US delegation, said: "It's up to the Europeans. They have to bring their banana trade regime into conformity."

[ image:  ]
Washington announced last week that importers of a range of European products - including Scottish cashmere sweaters and Italian cheese - would have to post bonds equivalent to 100% tariffs on the goods' value.

The US wants to impose these sanctions on EU exports to compensate for the $520m it estimates that American banana exporters have lost as a result of the alleged European policy.

But the EU claims the US has shown "blatant disregard" for WTO dispute settlement procedures and is acting illegally.

The EU maintains that it has changed its policy on banana imports to bring it into line with WTO regulations.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia

Relevant Stories

08 Mar 99 | Americas
Caribbean drug threat in banana war

05 Mar 99 | World
Analysis: Transatlantic tensions deepen

05 Mar 99 | The Economy
Banana war exposes old trade divisions

Internet Links

Caribbean Banana Exporters' Association

World Trade Organisation

US Trade Representative

European Union

UK Foreign Office

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named