Washington, D.C. – United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that the United States and the European Union (EU) have signed an agreement designed to lead to settlement of a longstanding dispute over the EU's bananas trading regime. The text of the agreement was initialed on December 15, 2009. In the agreement, the EU undertakes not to reintroduce measures that discriminate among bananas distributors based on the ownership or control of the distributors or the source of the bananas, and to maintain a non-discriminatory, tariff-only regime for the importation of bananas. The U.S.-EU agreement complements the Geneva Agreement on Trade in Bananas (GATB) between the EU and several Latin American banana-supplying countries. It was also initialed on December 15, 2009 and signed on May 31. That agreement provides for staged EU tariff cuts will bring the EU into compliance with its obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement. With the signing of the GATB, the EU will make its first tariff cut, retroactive to the date of initialing. Together these agreements will enhance non-discriminatory market access opportunities in the $4 billion EU market for imported bananas the significant benefit of U.S. distribution companies and their workers.
“I am pleased that we, together with the Latin American banana-producing countries, have taken one more significant step toward ensuring that the EU's bananas import regime is consistent with its WTO obligations,” said Ambassador Kirk. “All the parties still have some distance to travel before we finally and conclusively settle the bananas dispute. However, we are closer now than we have ever been and I am hopeful that we will be able to finally lay this longstanding dispute to rest in the near future.”
The signing of the two agreements in Geneva is a continuation of a process began in December with the initialing of the texts. When completed, this effort will culminate the settling of the various banana trade disputes and claims against the EU the WTO. Upon entry into agreement with the Latin American countries (after the various parties conclude their domestic ratification procedures), the EU will need to request formal WTO certification of its new tariffs on bananas. The GATB provides that once the certification process is concluded, the EU and the Latin American signatories to the GATB will settle their disputes and claims. Once that has occurred, the United States will also settle its dispute with the EU.
The U.S.-EU agreement on bananas can be found on the USTR website here.