EU, Latin American Accord Ends Banana-Import Dispute (Update1)
By Jennifer M. Freedman
Dec. 15 (Bloomberg) — The European Union and Latin American countries including Ecuador and Guatemala reached an agreement over the EU’s banana-import policies, settling the longest-running dispute at the World Trade Organization.
Under the deal secured today, which also has U.S. backing, the EU will cut duties on bananas from Latin America to 114 euros ($166) a metric ton from 176 euros over seven years, the European Commission said in a statement from Brussels. The change means banana prices in the EU will drop 11 percent while Latin American producers will see exports climb, said Giovanni Anania, a professor at the University of Calabria in Italy.
“The clear winner will be the Latin American countries, because they will expand their exports to the EU by roughly 17 percent,” he said in a telephone interview. “Total exports of bananas from Latin America to all markets will increase by 3.2 percent” while producers in African and Caribbean countries will see shipments of the fruit to the EU decline 14 percent.
Companies and consumers in the U.S. will also be affected, Anania said. Exports from companies such as Dole Food Co. and Chiquita Brands International Inc. that grow and ship bananas from Latin America will increase while the supply of the fruit in the U.S. will drop, “driving up prices minimally,” he said.