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Thu, 3 Apr 1997 15:16:44 GMT

------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 06:24:59 -0800 (PST) From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org> Subject:(en) yes, we have no bananas Sender: a-infos-request@tao.ca Precedence: list Reply-To: a-infos-d@tao.ca

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Remember in the days of colonies, where Carribean islands were "linked" with other -mostly European -- countries. At least some trade links were forged in those days as to sugar and as to banana plantations.

But under the new administration there are no colonies, and the preference given by eg France to carribean bananas, as opposed to chiqita led to the US filing a complaint on the subject.

Now read on.!! ============================


2000 High-paying US office jobs at stake

After nearly 10 months of deliberations, the World Trade Organization last week released to the concerned parties a confidential draft ruling on the European Union's banana import regime, finding that EU policies violate the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the General Agreement on Trade in Services and the Agreement on Import Licensing Procedures. The U.S. had brought the case on behalf of Chiquita Brands International Inc., a U.S.-based company which claims that 2,000 high-paying U.S. office jobs are threatened by the EU's banana regime. The EU regime calls for preferential quotas on banana imports from four Latin American countries -- Nicaragua, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Colombia -- and gives tariff preferences to banana producers in former colonies in Afrrica, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP). The draft ruling was presented to U.S., EU, and Latin American trade officials who have time to comment on the panel's findingsbefore a final ruling is issued at the end of April. While the EU is expected to make some changes to its banana regime, there is little expectation that it would allow free trade in LatinAmerican bananas. Skeptics of the efficacy of the WTO preliminary ruling= contend that France and Spain may invoke EU rule 404 to justify maintaining their banana import regimes. The EU may seek to negotiate an agreement with Latin American banana producing countries that would broker differences between EU countries in favor of abolishing the import regime-- mainly the UK, Germany and Belgium--versus those in favor of protecting it--principally Spain, Italy and France.

The draft is seen as a victory for the U.S. and the four Latin American countries who joined the dispute -- Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. Critics charge that the real winner in the dispute is Chiquita Brands and another U.S. banana powerhouse Dole. It is widely speculated that politics, not trade principle, encouraged the U.S. to bring the complaint to the WTO. Chiquita Brands majority-owner Carl Lindner routinely makes significant contributions to both the Democratic and Republican parties, and did so again shortly before the banana complaint was brought to the WTOby the U.S.

The panel did uphold the EU's right to establish quotas for ACP bananas in accordance with a waiver received for the Lome Convention, which allowsthe EU to extend trade preferences to former colonies of EU states. The panel recommended that the EU bring its banana regime in line with its obligations under global trade agreements. For the EU to do so, however, may mean economic ruin for ACP banana exporting countries. The Windward Islands -- Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia and St. Vincent, would be devastatedshould they lose their guaranteed market for 294,000 tonss annually. Bananas to the EU account for 50% of all exports and 15% of the gross domestic product.

"Confidential WTO Report Shows Win For U.S. on EU Banana Regime,"INSIDE U.S. TRADE, March 20, 1997; "La OMC Olvido El Banano," EL TIEMPO (Colombia), March 24, 1997; "Banano: El Lio Aun No Esta Ganado," EL COMERCIO (Ecuador), March 20, 1997; "WTO Puts Skids Under Banana Regime," FINANCIAL TIMES, March 20, 1997; "Bananas Split U.S.,Europe In WTO Spat," JOURNAL OFCOMMERCE, March 18, 1997.


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