13 November 1998
Caribbean’s future after the banana battle

THE Financial Times takes a close look at the Caribbeans response to the threat from the ending of privileged access for its bananas to the European market.

Europes special terms for its ex-colonies bananas have become the subject of a trade war with the USA, which is insisting the agreements are against the rules of the World Trade Organisation.

Producers in the countries affected, particularly those in the Windward Islands, are being told to diversify. Some growers are already getting into cocoa and horticulture.

But producers are also trying to meet the challenge by becoming more efficient. The Windward Islands have received financial help from the European Union to meet that aim, but the challenge remains formidable.

The islands need to produce 200,000 tonnes of bananas annually to make the industry viable. It struggled to export 84,000 tonnes last year.

  • What the papers say — banana wars

    THE Times and the Financial Times both carry backgrounders on the dispute between the USA and the European Union over the import of bananas.

    The latest move in the battle is the threat by the USA to impose 100% tariffs on a wide range of goods if the European Union fails to reform its banana regime. This regime offers preferential access to its market for produce from the former colonies of the UK and France.

    The Financial Times sees the possibility that the dispute could get out of control, leading to protectionism on both sides which would, in the longer run, destabilise the world economy.