EU continues toward tariff-only import system for bananas

June 3, 2004, as reported by The European Union continues its move to a tariff-only import system for bananas. This week the European Commission has proposed to the Council of EU Ministers that they open WTO negotiations.

In 2001 the EC and the Council agreed to move from the current quota system to a tariff-only system no later than 2006. The WTO negotiations would be the first step in establishing the new system.

Once the Council has agreed, the EC will negotiate the import tariff for bananas with the relevant producer countries. It will seek to maintain the same level of protection and preferences for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries as the existing regime provides while entirely respecting its obligations and commitments with regard to its other trading partners, EU producers and EU consumers.

“We are now moving to the final phase of our agreement and replacing the complex quota system by a simple tariff system. What will change is the import regime, not the level of protection. If our Member States agree, the Commission will negotiate an adequate tariff level. We will have to square the circle and safeguard the sometimes conflicting interests of our consumers, producers and trading partners,” said Franz Fischler, EU Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries.