Chiquita ‘regrets’ endorsement of European banana tariff
Chiquita Brands International, a global marketer and distributor of fresh produce, has expressed disappointment with actions taken Nov. 25 among representatives of nations in the European Union to endorse a proposal that would add a tariff of 176 euros ($206) per metric ton on imports of Latin American bananas in 2006.
“Chiquita regrets that the European Commission has advanced a tariff proposal that will be bad for banana producers and will introduce a number of clear World Trade Organization violations that previously have been condemned,” said Fernando Aguirre, Chiquita’s chairman and chief executive officer.
The European Commission’s two earlier proposals for a tariff-only regime, first at 230 euros per metric ton and later at 187 euros per metric ton, were rejected by WTO arbitrators earlier in 2005 because they would not have resulted in “at least maintaining total market access” for Latin American producers,” Chiquita said in a statement.
Many Latin American banana-producing countries have warned the European Commission “that any increased banana tariff would create complications in the WTO Hong Kong talks to be held in December,” Chiquita explained.
“If a revision of this regime is ratified, the 176 euros-per-ton tariff, which is more than double the current tariff of 75 euros, would impose an additional $375 million tax burden on the European banana trade each year, and would increase tariff costs on bananas imported by Chiquita by approximately $110 million per year,” Aguirre said.
Most Caribbean countries have called for a transitional regime “to prevent these disruptive market consequences,” Chiquita noted.