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WTO rules against EU in bananas dispute

December 01, 2008
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The World Trade Organization has ruled that the European Union''s import taxes for bananas break global commerce rules, putting some Latin American countries at an unfair disadvantage against former French and British colonies, reported by the Associated Press. The ruling by the global trade body''s appeals panel could prompt banana exporting countries to seek WTO permission for punitive taxes on EU goods in retaliation for the tariffs. The ruling confirms an earlier decision by the WTO''s dispute settlement panel which called on the EU to bring its duties in line with global trade agreements. The complaint was brought by Ecuador, which claims to suffer as a result of preferential conditions the EU gives to banana growers from some African and Caribbean nations. The ruling is the latest in a series of WTO decisions against the EU''s banana regime stretching back more than 10 years. Although Brussels has made various changes to its rules over the years, the WTO has consistently found the EU to be in breach of its free trade obligations. The WTO''s 153 members are preparing for possible high-level talks in Geneva next month in an attempt to reach a deal that has eluded them since the Doha trade round was launched in the Qatari capital in 2001. Ecuadorean growers, however, called for "immediate, major reductions" in European banana tariffs. The U.S. has also complained about the European tariffs, seeking compensation that would allow it to levy retaliatory taxes on European goods equal to the damage incurred by American companies such as Chiquita Brands International Inc.

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