San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Trade Organization Supports Region’s Banana Producers

WORLD Trade Organization (WTO)arbitrators announced Sunday that theEuropean Union must reconsider its hikeof import taxes on bananas from LatinAmerica, saying the hike would denyLatin America total access to theEuropean market.Banana-producing countries fromLatin America have protested the proposedincrease, which would raise taxesfrom 75 euros ($91) per metric ton to 230euros (about $279) per metric ton (TT,July 15). The new tariffs were scheduledto take effect Jan. 1, 2006.Officials here expressed their satisfactionwith the ruling at a special pressconference held at Casa Presidencial followingthe decision. Costa Rica exportsthe second largest amount of bananas inLatin America, behind only Ecuador.The ruling specified that the EuropeanUnion has 10 days to begin discussionswith Latin America. Trade MinisterManuel González said Latin Americanrepresentatives will meet with EuropeanUnion officials today to begin negotiationsfor a new tariff rate. He added that if theyare unable to come to an agreement, LatinAmerica will take their case to a secondround of arbitration, and even to the Doharound of WTO talks slated to take place inDecember in Hong Kong.

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