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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 17:47 GMT 18:47 UK
Latams rally WTO in EU tariff row
Summit of Latin American banana-producing countries.
At a meeting last month Latams rejected EU tariff plans
Latin American banana producers are calling on the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to intervene in a long-running row over banana tariffs.

The producers are vehemently against plans by the European Union (EU) to replace the current quota system.

At the moment, Latin American exports to the EU are limited but the duty per tonne never exceeds 75 euros.

Proposals to replace quotas with higher duties will cost producers more and threaten livelihoods, they say.

"Today I signed a letter to the chairman of the WTO General Council requesting arbitration," said Ecuador's ambassador to the WTO Herman Escudero.

'Violation'

Earlier this year the EU announced plans to introduce a blanket 230 euro per tonne levy on banana imports from January 2006, replacing the current import quota system.

But Latin American countries warned that this action could result in a tripling of tariffs on their produce and would undermine their market share in Europe.

At a meeting in January the countries formally rejected the EU's plans on the grounds that they would "violate the EU's obligations before the WTO".

The new EU tariff will benefit banana exporters from former African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) colonies, whose comparatively smaller producers struggle to compete with much-larger Latin producers.

Under the new regime, ACP producers will continue to export bananas duty free.

These producers would like to see even higher tariffs on the cheaper Latin American bananas than the EU reforms will impose.

If Latin American producers are successful and the European tariff is judged to be excessive by WTO arbitrators, Brussels will be obliged to propose another amount.


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SEE ALSO:
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