San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Minister Says Position on Banana Tariffs ‘Prudent’

FOREIGN Trade Minister ManuelGonzález this week urged Costa Ricanbanana producers to “maintain calm” inthe face of the conflict between CostaRica and the European Union, which hasproposed a significant tariff hike onbananas produced in Latin America.González said Tuesday that while somein the industry have expressed concern thatCosta Rica’s opposition to the hike couldendanger banana exports to Europe, the tariffincrease is not scheduled to take effectuntil Jan. 1, 2006, leaving more than a yearfor continued negotiations.“Some have said the position adoptedby the government could cause job losses,but there is no real reason for suchexaggerated alarm,” González said,adding the government appreciates theeconomic and social importance ofbanana production in Costa Rica and thatthe position toward the tariff change is“prudent and cautious.”He said the reasons for the government’sopposition to the hike include a lackof information about why the EuropeanUnion chose to make the change, and thefact that the new tariff of 230 euros(approximately $306) per ton, as opposedto the current 75-euro ($100) rate, is apparentlydiscriminatory, since it would notapply to banana-producing countries inAfrica, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

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