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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 November 2006, 14:03 GMT
Ecuador challenges EU banana duty
Costa Rican banana worker
So called 'banana wars' have been going on for years
Ecuador has challenged the European Union's duty on imported bananas at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Ecuador, the world's largest banana exporter, has filed a complaint against the 176 euro ($225; 119) per tonne duty for bananas from Latin America.

It is the first complaint filed since the EU's new banana regime came into force on January 1 this year.

Ecuador has argued that the level of the duty makes it hard to compete with Caribbean and African producers.

Preferential treatment

It is the level of the tariff that Ecuador says prevents them from having market access to the EU.

It says it is "suffering relative to that of African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) countries," an industry source told the Reuters news agency.

Latin American countries have long said that such countries have been given preferential treatment on banana imports.

ACP bananas can be imported into the EU duty-free if they do not exceed 775,000 tonnes per year.

Above that they are submitted to the same duty level as Latin America.

The EU said it was "a pity" that Ecuador felt the need to complain about the import duty and that it helped "no one".

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