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More challenges ahead for banana industry

Stored under Caption This!GamesMiscellaneousNewsRecipesRelated EBay AuctionsReviewsVideosVisual Stimulation on December 7, 2006

There could be more challenges for the island's banana industry as low-cost Latin American banana producers pressure the European Union (EU) to further reduce the preferential tariff on bananas coming from non-African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

Last Thursday, Colombia joined Ecuador, the world's largest exporter of bananas, in complaining to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that the EU's 175-euro tariff was still too high and was unfair to Latin American banana producers.

This latest development has come at a time when the banana sector in Jamaica is still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, which plunged production to an all-time low of just over 11,000 tonnes in 2005.

Dr. Marshall Hall, managing director of the Jamaica Producers Group, the largest commercial grower and exporter of bananas in Jamaica, told Farmers Weekly that it would be virtually impossible for the industry to survive if the preferential tariff is reduced below 175 euros. "It would be very hard to survive anything beyond 175 euros," he stressed.

Agriculture and Lands Minister, Roger Clarke, in commenting on the actions of the Latin Americans on Tuesday, said the 18- member ACP cluster would be fighting strenuously to have the tariff remain at 175 euros. "And we have real support out of Spain and France," he added.

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