|March 23, 2004, just-food.com:
The UN is promoting the European Union’s expanded membership
to banana producing countries. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) has called the EU expansion from 15 to 25 countries a “lucrative
new market for banana producers.”
"One of the most coveted
emerging markets for banana producers is that of the ten new countries
that will join the Single European Market in May," said Paul
Pilkauskas, FAO senior commodity specialist.
The expansion will take effect in May of this year and in preparation
of new producers the EU must decide how the transitional tariff-quota
system will be applied to banana imports between 2004 and 2006.
Beginning in 2006 a tariff-only system will be established. According
to FAO, these decisions will have a significant impact on producer
countries, because currently one third of the world banana trade
is destined for the European Union.
"This will affect all banana producers, whether in the Canaries,
in Latin America or in the ACP [African, Caribbean and Pacific]
countries. Currently only the ACP countries are allowed to enter
the single European market free of any tariff or charge," Pilkauskas
Currently, the sector faces a number of challenges, including overproduction
and the shape of the new market that will be created by the new
Europe of the 25 countries.
Bananas are the fifth most important commodity for world food security,
according to the FAO. Worldwide, more than 88 million metric tons
of bananas are produced every year. A substantial part of this production
is consumed locally, especially in tropical countries, where bananas
are a staple food.
The banana sector is strongly export oriented, with some 13 million
tons crossing the seas and oceans each year. Oversupply relative
to demand is a continuing issue, and the future of the sector is
less than clear in the evolving world agriculture trade system.
"Last year saw a fall in prices," said Pilkauskas, "But,
at the same time, demand is growing in the Commonwealth of Independent
States and the ten new EU member countries. China is also a promising