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Latin American banana-producing countries reject European tariff
2005-01-27 00:47:02 XinhuaEnglish

QUITO, Jan. 26(Xinhuanet)-- Latin America's banana-producing countries rejected Wednesday here the 230-euro tariff per metric ton of the fruit announced by the European Union(EU).

In a joint declaration issued at the end of the Latin American summit of banana-producing countries, the presidents of Colombia, Alvaro uribe; Costa Rica, Abel
Pacheco; Guatemala, Oscar Berguer; Panama, Martin Torrijos; Ecuador, Lucio Gutierres, and Honduran Foreign Minister Leonidas Rosa, considered the tariff as"unacceptable."

The presidents rejected the tariff announced last October by the European Union for Latin American banana, as well as any othertariff level that goes against the mandate contained in the Annex to the Doha Exemption.

They also warned that the effects of a tariff that does not comply with such mandate would be devastating for the development of the producing countries.

The presidents invited the EU to negotiate, at once, jointly with the signatories of Doha, to reach a mutually convenient solution, without affecting the application of substantive and procedural rights as stated in the annex.

They also asked to respect the commitments on market access foragricultural products of the Doha Round, determined on November 14,2001, and the commitment to liberalizing trade for tropical agricultural products, as accorded in the July Package.

The presidents affirmed their will to continue making joint efforts in the negotiations on the imports, sales and distributionof banana to the EU.

Experts have said the exports of Latin American banana to the EU has great importance for the political stability, the economic and human development, in particular in those countries' struggle to reduce poverty as banana production and trade have an importantimpact on the lives of a important part of the population.

An example of that is the case of Ecuador, where there is a total banana-plantation area of some 160,000 hectares and the population directly or indirectly linked to the sector tops 1.2 million out of the total population of 12.2 million.

Ecuador is the fourth producer and the largest world exporter of the fruit whose external sales amount to 18.2 percent of the total exports of the country.

In 2003, Ecuador obtained 1.09 billion dollars in foreign currency through banana sales, mainly to the European Union and the United States.

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