HC Deb 09 June 2004 vol 422 c439W
Mr. Foulkes

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what pressure the Department has brought to seek a positive outcome in the World Trade Organisation discussions on bananas in order to protect Caribbean banana producers. [176077]

Alun Michael

As part of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) settlement with the USA and Ecuador reached in 2001, the EU is committed to the removal of quota restrictions on banana imports by the end of 2005. Further WTO negotiations will be needed to determine how the existing quotas are converted into tariffs.

The UK recognises the importance of the banana trade to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) exporters. We firmly believe that the inevitable changes to the banana regime must be phased at a rate that allows their economies to adjust.

Defra and European Commission officials met earlier this year to discuss the matter. Further representations will be made as necessary when the Commission seeks a mandate from member states for proposals on a tariff-only import regime to submit to the WTO.

As a separate issue, the existing waiver under WTO rules allowing the EU to provide tariff preferences for the ACP countries expires in 2007 and is to be replaced by the development of Economic Partnership Agreements. The terms for these are currently under negotiation. The UK is taking a close interest.

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