7 Dec 2009

Deal expected to end banana dispute at last

12:52 pm on 7 December 2009

The world's longest-running trade dispute looks like it's rounded the final bend with a deal to reform the banana trade due to signed this week.

The European Union and Latin America had hoped to wrap up the deal last week, which would end a 16-year-old banana war, but a European diplomat says it's been delayed by small technical issues in the legal drafting.

The dispute arose over the EU market's preferential treatment to its former colonies, the African Caribbean and Pacific countries, over Latin American producers.

The deal will cut the tariff paid on bananas from Latin America and shield the European Union from further legal action at the WTO, which has condemned its current import regime.

Caribbean countries have said their economies will be devastated by the agreement, as banana exports are the mainstay of their economies and adjusting to the loss of markets is already hurting producers and communities on the islands.

The deal must now get approval from the United States, which does not export bananas, but is home to several big distributors and processors.