December 15, 2009
United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk announced today that the United States and the European Union (EU) have initialed an agreement designed to lead to settlement of a longstanding dispute over the EU’s bananas trading regime. In the agreement, the EU undertakes not to reintroduce measures that discriminate among bananas distributors based on the ownership or control of the distributor or the source of the bananas, and to maintain a non-discriminatory, tariff-only regime for the importation of bananas. The U.S.-EU agreement complements an agreement (the Geneva Agreement on Trade in Bananas or GATB) also concluded today between the EU and several Latin American banana-supplying countries. That agreement provides for staged EU tariff cuts that will bring the EU into compliance with its obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement.
“The United States has worked closely over the years with Latin American banana-producing countries to ensure that the EU’s bananas import regime was consistent with its WTO obligations. It has been a long road, and we still have more to travel before we finally and conclusively settle this dispute. But we believe that we have turned the corner toward that destination and look forward to getting there as soon as possible,” said Ambassador Kirk.
The initialing of both agreements today in Geneva starts a process that, when completed, will culminate with the settling of the various banana disputes and claims against the EU in the World Trade Organization. Once the various parties conclude their domestic ratification procedures, the agreements will be signed and then enter into force. Upon entry in force, the EU will need to request formal WTO certification of its new tariffs on bananas. The GATB provides that once the certification process is concluded, the EU and the Latin American signatories to the GATB will settle their disputes and claims. Once that has occurred, the United States will also settle its dispute with the EU.
The U.S.-EU agreement on bananas is on the USTR website at www.ustr.gov/webfm_send/1566