Euro MP Christine Oddy is calling on Europe to stand up to American pressure
over the sale of bananas which is threatening to turn into a damaging trade war.
The United States has hinted that it will place restrictions on the import of goods
from Britain and the other 14 member states of the European Union if the continent does
not open up its markets to bananas grown on American-owned plantations in Latin America.
The threat comes after a lengthy battle by the American-dominated World Trade
Organisation which objects to the protection the European Union gives to small scale
producers in the Caribbean and the former French colonies in Africa.
The policy is designed to protect family farmers in islands such as Dominica, who
because of the mountainous terrain are unable to compete with the American-owned
plantations of central and south America.
Supporters of the policy fear that many of the islands face economic ruin if they are
faced with full-scale competition from the American companies.
The EU has already made concessions and modified its policy but the WTO and the United
States say the remaining safeguards are unacceptable and have hinted at imposing
restrictions on imported goods from Europe. Negotiations are currently taking place to
resolve the deadlock.
Ms Oddy said:
"It is vital we help protect the livelihood of family farmers in places such as
Dominica, where bananas provide more than half the export earnings. The United States
doesn't export a single banana and is risking a damaging trade war which will benefit
no-one purely in the interests of the plantation-owning companies. Europe must resist the
pressure and stand up for the Caribbean or we will see the economies of many of these
countries left in ruins and their people reduced to abject poverty."