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United States Requests WTO Panel to Review European Union's Banana Import Regime

06/29/2007

 

 


 


WASHINGTON, D.C. - United States Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab
today announced that the United States has requested a World
Trade Organization panel to review whether the European Union’s (EU) banana
import regime breaches the EU’s WTO obligations. 


           


The U.S. request relates to the EU’s apparent failure
to implement the WTO rulings in a 1996 proceeding initiated by
Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the United
States.  That ruling said the EU’s banana
regime discriminates against bananas originating in Latin American countries and
against distributors of such bananas, including several U.S.
companies.  The EU was under an obligation to bring its banana regime into
compliance with its WTO obligations by January 1999.


           


”We regret that efforts between the EU and its Latin
American trading partners to negotiate a solution to the banana issue have not
been successful,” said Ambassador Schwab.  “We share the concern of
Ecuador and several other Latin
American banana exporters regarding the continued existence of a discriminatory
tariff rate quota in the EU’s current banana regime.  We are hopeful that
this formal step will facilitate the removal of that
discrimination.”


 


A similar request for panel establishment was submitted by
Ecuador on February 23, and a
compliance panel was composed in response to that request on June 15. 
Ecuador and the
United
States had been authorized once before by the
WTO to take action against the EU for its failure to implement the 1996
rulings.  The United
States terminated that action after the EU
committed to shift to a tariff-only regime for bananas no later than January 1,
2006.


           


Despite these commitments, the EU banana regime put in
place on January 1, 2006 features a zero-duty tariff rate quota that is
allocated exclusively to bananas from African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries.  Bananas of
Latin American origin do not have access to this duty-free tariff rate quota and
are subject, instead, to a 176 euro/ton
duty.