Friday

24th May 2019

MEPs approve controversial banana deal

The European Parliament on Thursday (3 February) approved a tariff deal between the EU and Latin American banana producers, marking the end of a 16-year long trade war. MEPs also urged the bloc to boost its compensation aid to the 10 former European colonies in Africa and the Caribbean (ACP) which stand to lose from the deal.

Under the new accord, the EU is set to lower import tariffs on bananas from Latin American countries from €176 per tonne to €114 in 2017, narrowing somewhat the gap with producers from former EU colonies, who are currently exempt from paying tariffs.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Banana growers are keen on exporting tariff-free to the EU (Photo: Banana Link)

In parallel, the bloc is expected to boost its aid to the 10 ACP states - Belize, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.

The countries are getting €200 million in aid in the 2010 to 2014 period. But MEPs want this to be topped up and extended to 2020 to help them to diversify their economies.

French Green MEP Catherine Greze, who had voted against the deal, said that the agreement was a "blow to developing countries and small banana producers" that will benefit big fruit exporters such as US giant Chiquita.

Banana producers from the EU's overseas territories in the Canary Islands, Guadeloupe, Madeira and Martinique also slammed the EU deal.

"We regret that the end of hostilities, which was the main advantage meant to result from the Geneva agreement on bananas, has been challenged by new concessions that are unjustified and benefit only the multinationals," the Association of European Banana Producers (APEB), representing 15,000 small farmers, said in a statement.

The Geneva agreement - a WTO-sponsored deal in 2009 between the US, the EU and Latin American banana-producing states - ended a 16-year-long international trade dispute and latest paved the way for the latest EU agreement.

In the meantime, some Latino producers, such as Colombia and Peru, have negotiated tariffs well below the €114 line with individual EU countries on a bilateral basis. Brazil is angling for 200,000 tonnes' worth of zero tariff bananas. But, others, like Ecuador and Guatemala, had held out for the EU-wide deal, complicating the picture, and breeding resentment.

"Contrary to what the EU Commission claims, the Geneva agreement doesn't put an end to the banana war" the APEB producers noted.

The EU is the world's largest banana market and more then 70 percent of the yellow fruit sold in the EU comes from Latin America - mainly Ecuador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama.

Around 20 percent of bananas originate in former colonies Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, the Dominican Republic, Belize and Surinam. The rest are grown on EU territories: Cyprus, Greece, Madeira, Canary Islands and French overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

The "banana trade war" began in 1993 when the EU established a preferential policy for imports from former British and French colonies, but earlier tensions date back as far as the 1970s.

The importance of the banana trade in Latin American history is clear to see in Guatemala. A 1954 coup d'etat in the country - broadly supported by the United Fruit Company (nowadays known as Chiquita) - plunged it into a 40-year period of dictatorships and civil war, costing the lives of over 200,000 citizens.

EU ends 'banana wars' with Latin America

The European Union has reached an agreement on banana import tariffs with Latin American countries, ending the world's longest running trade dispute.

EU top court backs Canada trade deal in ruling

The European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday that the EU-Canada free trade agreement, and its controversial dispute settlement mechanism, is in line with the bloc's rules.

EU and Japan in delicate trade talks

The Japanese PM comes to Brussels to discuss the first results of the new EU-Japan free trade deal, plus WTO reform - a sensitive topic before he moves onto Washington to face Donald Trump.

News in Brief

  1. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  2. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal
  3. UK sacked defence secretary backs Johnson for leader
  4. Dutch voter turnout so far slightly down on 2014
  5. Report: Hungary's Fidesz 'bought' Belgian official
  6. Poll: Denmark set to double number of liberal MEPs
  7. European brands 'breaking' chemical safety rules
  8. Report: Merkel was lobbied to accept EU top job

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  2. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  3. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal
  4. EU should stop an insane US-Iran war
  5. EU faces moment of truth at midnight on Sunday
  6. Dutch MPs: EU sanctions should bear Magnitsky name
  7. Far-right hate speech flooded Facebook ahead of EU vote
  8. Key details on how Europeans will vote

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us