2009 Geneva Banana Agreement

27 novembre 2020

From the small starting point of bananas, it is easy to see how protectionism could spiral out of the blue, as several trading blocs provide retaliatory duties on imports from other countries. Some warn that banana wars immediately prevent global financial instability. Under the Lomé Convention, the European Union has proposed preferential conditions for banana imports from the Caribbean. If another WTO ruling forces the EU to fully disprove the already tense Lomé Convention, new free trade agreements are to be concluded, which will expose these developing countries and their fragile industries to the full force of the « free » market. An international trade dispute over bananas for two decades has finally been resolved. The signing comes after nations agreed in Geneva in December 2009 for the EU to gradually reduce its tariffs on imported bananas from 176 EUROS (US$140) per tonne to 114 euros in eight years. One of the longest international trade battles – the banana battle, which dates back more than two decades – is over. In December 2009, the EU was forced to reduce its tariffs on imported bananas from 176 euros ($224; $140) per tonne to 114 euros per tonne in eight years. Latin American banana exporters have long protested against EU tariffs to protect small farmers in the former European colonies in Africa and the Caribbean. The European Union and eleven Latin American countries have signed an agreement that brings to an end a 1991 trade dispute over banana tariffs, which are important exports for several Latin American economies. The banana issue was one of the longest disputes in the multilateral trading system after the Second World War. If there is no agreement on a framework agreement (or « modalities ») in the Doha Round agricultural negotiations until 31 December 2013, these annual tariff reductions may be delayed by up to two years for the remaining years.

However, the banana dispute as a whole can only be fully resolved if the EU also guarantees a compensation agreement with partners from Caribbean and Pacific Africa (ACP) partner countries to help them cope with tariff changes. The « banana wars » are the culmination of a six-year trade dispute between the United States and the EU. The United States has criticised the fact that EU regulations granting special access to European markets to banana producers from former Caribbean colonies are contrary to free trade rules. EU import duties had favoured imports from former European colonies without imposing taxes on bananas from former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. However, the EU has demanded tariffs on bananas from other countries. But the problem this conflict poses to developing countries could be more serious. 71 African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states are subject to the Lomé Convention, a convention that was established in the 1970s and commits the European Union to promoting trade with its former colonies. What is the EU`s agreement with the Caribbean? Since 1975, every Caribbean country has had a quota of bananas that allows them to sell as many bananas to Europe as they wanted. The EU hoped that this would allow the economies of these developing countries to grow independently without the need for overseas help. « In the agreement, which is seen as a boost for the Doha round of global trade negotiations, the EU will gradually reduce its tariffs on banana imports from Latin America from 176 euros per tonne to 114 euros ($255 to $165), » said the EU executive. If the United States does not export bananas directly to Europe, why are they so angry? Whether a Democrat or a Republican, U.S. governments have long been committed to an ideological commitment to free trade.

But the « banana wars » are more grumpy than this clear principle. « The EU has also proposed mobilising up to 200 mi