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Tuesday 29th July 2008, 23:07 London

WTO banana talks in danger of collapse

ACP nations are refusing to accept the latest trade proposal brokered by EU and Latin American officials concerning banana imports into Europe

WTO banana talks in danger of collapse

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Former European colonies have threatened to block the latest proposed trade deal to reduce the EU’s tariffs on Latin American banana, the BBC has reported.

The African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) trade grouping said the 35 per cent cut agreed by EU and Latin American officials late on Sunday was unacceptable. Cameroon, which speaks on behalf of ACP banana exporters, is reportedly the most active in blocking an agreement.

"We still go on in discussions and negotiations... today is today, we have to see what will happen tomorrow," Cameroon's trade minister Luc Magloire Atangana Mbarga (pictured) told reporters on Sunday.Cameroon trade minister Luc Mbarga

Luc Mbarga

He said Cameroon wanted financial support to compensate for the export revenues lost to Latin American competitors and a two- or three-year grace period before EU tariffs are lowered.

Spain’s secretary of state for rural matters Josep Puxeu has also reportedly spoken out against the deal, saying that he was not in favour of any reduction of the banana import tariff for Latin American countries.

Spain is a supporter of maintaining a high tariff protection for bananas for the longest time possible,” he said in a statement.  

EU officials have been trying to review the special trade deals – including bananas – with some 80 ACP countries, which have been in place since the 1950s, according to the BBC.

Speaking to Radio France International yesterday, Alistair Smith of Banana Link said the problem is unfair competition.

"Far more important than the levels of the tariff in the EU is the issue of... small scale farmers who are still involved in the international banana trade. That's unfair competition because of exceedingly low wages and poor conditions," he said.

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