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Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, has said that the government would be examining the implications of the recent ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO), which has deemed illegal, the new banana regime being proposed by the European Union (EU).
“We are now actively examining what are the implications of that ruling and have already initiated a process of diplomatic action for us to insulate ourselves as far as we can from any adverse effects that will flow from that ruling,” the Prime Minister informed, as he addressed yesterday’s (Aug.1) closing session of the 2005 Denbigh Agricultural and Industrial Show in May Pen, Clarendon.
The new tariff structure, which is expected to take effect early next year, provides for the imposition of an import duty of 230 Euros per tonne of banana up from 75 Euros, while African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) producers would continue to enjoy preferential duty-free access to the European banana market.
Latin American countries, which brought the issue to the WTO, argued that the new regime would seriously affect their ability to maintain market access and have a devastating effect on their economies. The WTO, in its ruling on Monday, agreed with the Latin Americans and questioned the data used by the EU to calculate the new tariff.
On other challenges facing the sugar industry, including the impending cuts in the price of ACP sugar, the Prime Minister suggested that cane lands could be converted into vegetable and fruit farms, to feed the visitors expected to take up the 13,000 new hotel rooms now under construction.
“Some of the places where we plant cane we will have turn it into orchards, we have to plant vegetables, we have to plant horticultural plants,” he said.