HC Deb 04 June 1992 vol 208 c940
14. Mr. Jacques Arnold

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the accessibility of the British market to Latin American bananas.

Mr. Curry

The Commission has published a working paper on banana imports aiming to fulfil all the Community's international obligations.

Mr. Arnold

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind the fact that the Latin American republics from which bananas come are third world countries just as deserving of our consideration as the Caribbean islands? Are not British consumers entitled to those bananas, which are larger, cheaper and, by and large, of higher quality than the ones that are currently being imported?

Mr. Curry

I am sure that my hon. Friend knows that British consumers do indeed benefit from those bananas. Last year, about 28 per cent. of bananas consumed in Britain came from Latin America and we believe that this year the quantity could comfortably be 100,000 tonnes. However, we have an obligation to protect the position of our traditional suppliers in Jamaica and the Windward islands. It is entirely possible for us to do that while ensuring adequate access for Latin American bananas.

Dr. Godman

May I remind the Minister that many of those engaged in the production of Latin American bananas are employed in lousy conditions by big American firms? Will he ensure that the producers—the small farmers in the Windward islands and elsewhere—are protected from the obduracy of the Germans in regard to exports to the Community of their very fine product?

Mr. Curry

We have made it absolutely clear that we stand by our obligations to the Windward islands and Jamaica, enabling them to continue to have full access to our market. The European Community seems likely to introduce proposals to impose a quota on dollar bananas. To be fair, the dollar bananas are likely to take any increase in the market, because they are better placed; but our stance is that producers from the ACP—African Caribbean Pacific—countries must be fully protected, because of the importance of that crop to their industries and economies.

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