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CARICOM Heads on banana issue

CARICOM Heads on banana issue

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by Renwick Rose – Co-ordinator of WINFA

Bananas were one of the key issues discussed by CARICOM Heads of Government at the recent 17th Inter-sessional Summit, held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, February 9 to 10, 2006.

The following are the main agreements/points for action in respect of bananas:

(1) That the key negotiating objective should be “to ensure that the new tariff (176 euros/tonne) is not subject to further downward revision and the EU proceeds to bind such tariff in the shortest possible time.”{{more}}

(2) That the Caribbean should secure a tariff preference of its banana exports into the EU within the context of the EPA (Economic Partnership Agreement) negotiations and that “the Caribbean should request that the EU designate bananas as a sensitive product in the context of the WTO negotiations” whereby bananas would be subjected to very little or no tariff cuts at least under the Doha round.

(3) The Heads noted differences within CARICOM on bananas (Jamaica and the Windwards on one side, Suriname and Belize on the other) and resolved to make every effort to settle these prior to discussions with the EU.

(4) The Heads agreed to mount a lobbying mission to Europe in March. According to CARICOM Secretary General, Edwin Carrington, the Heads have decided that they are not going to be reactive, but to be positive and proactive in these matters. Thus they have agreed “to send a delegation of Heads of Government to European capitals within the next month to put our case before the authorities….”

They will also lobby various European institutions such as the European Parliament “to drive home to them the many ways in which they have abrogated the sacred (Lomè) treaty signed in 1975.”

(5) The Heads agreed to accept the invitation of the Government of Spain to attend the CARICOM-Spain Summit in Madrid, May 11, 2006 and to participate in the EU-Latin American and Caribbean Summit in Vienna, Austria over the next two days (May 12-13, 2006).

(6) The Heads endorsed a proposal to discuss with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the allocation of resources specifically for agriculture – to determine the requirement for research and development, to implement modalities for the coordination of these sectors, to identify the human resource needs for development and to propose measures to supply these needs.

(7) Member states have agreed to work closely with CARICOM institutions to find a practical programme for rural transformation and to seek the means to implement it.