San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Europe Slices Latin American Banana Tariff

Europeans may soon be eating more Costa Rican bananas, as import tariffs slipped from 176 per ton to 148 on May 31.

Under an agreement finalized in December and signed Monday, all bananas coming from Latin America will be entering the European market with the reduced tariff. Importers who purchased bananas during the lapse between the finalization of the agreement and Monday’s signing will be paid retroactively.

“The immediate reduction from 176 to 148 allows Costa Ricans to compete in mproved conditions in the European market, which should bring better prices for producers,” read a statement from the Foreign Trade Ministry.

Tariffs on Latin American bananas will continue to drop until they reach 114 per ton in January 2017. But thanks to the Central American-European Union Association Agreement signed in mid-May, Central American countries will enjoy a further decrease to a total of 75 per ton.

For years, Latin American bananas have had trouble competing in the European market, as they were up against those of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries who paid no tariffs.

Europe produces only 10.5 percent of the bananas it consumes and imports more than 4.8 million tons of bananas, 3.8 million of which come from Latin America. The largest Latin American supplier is Ecuador, followed by Colombia and Costa Rica (TT, Dec. 18, 2009).

–Chrissie Long

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