18 December 1998
Banana battle reaches WTO

THE European Union (EU) called for a special meeting today (Friday) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to arbitrate on its dispute over bananas with the USA.

The move follows the suspension of the disputes body on Tuesday, which broke up in confusion after the USA could not agree to the formation of a panel under the terms of reference imposed by Brussels.

The EU has angered the USA by demanding that the panel be given a mandate to find that recent changes to its banana regime must be presumed to comply with the WTO rules, unless formally challenged by other WTO members.

The USA complains that the amended regime, which favours imports from former British and French colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, does not comply with a WTO ruling.

  • The Times 18/12/98 page 28
  • The Independent 18/12/98 page 19 (News Digest), 23 (Editorial)