U.S. wins banana ruling
Washington gets go-ahead to impose
100% tariffs on $200M of EU imports
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on
Tuesday called the World Trade Organization's
decision on European Union banana import rules a
major victory that could set a precedent in other trade
disputes, including the EU ban on hormone-treated
U.S. trade officials said a WTO arbitration panel
agreed with the United States that new EU banana
import rules violate international trade laws. But the
panel significantly lowered the amount of sanctions
sought by Washington in the case.
U.S. Trade Representative special negotiator Peter
Scher said the WTO decision clears the way for the
United States to impose 100 percent tariffs on $191.4
million worth of imports from the European Union. The
United States originally claimed $520 million in lost
trade due to EU banana rules.
"We view this as a major victory for the WTO
dispute settlement system," Scher said in a telephone
conference with reporters. "This demonstrates that
there are time limits that must be respected and if
countries don't come into compliance at the end of a
reasonable time period, then they have to pay the
The United States had charged the EU rules, which
took effect in January, failed to comply with earlier
WTO decisions against EU banana import regulations,
and that EU policies favored former European colonies
in the Caribbean over Latin American producers, and
European distributors over U.S. companies.
Scher said the latest WTO decision also sets
important precedents for other agriculture trade
disputes with the European Union, particularly a ruling
against an EU ban on U.S. beef treated with growth
hormones. He said it also would set an important
precedent in a separate dispute with Canada over
"I think it has a very clear message for beef
hormones and a very clearly message for Canada
magazines and other countries and that is that the
WTO dispute settlement system has teeth," Scher said.
In a statement, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene
Barshefsky said she hoped the EU would change its
banana import regime to make it WTO consistent
rather than accept the 100 percent import duties.
"As before, we are prepared to work with the EU
on a new banana regime that meets the requirements of
the WTO and allows banana producing countries in
the Caribbean to continue to export bananas,"
Scher said the U.S. Trade Representative's Office
would publish in the next few days a list of goods that
will be subject to the 100 percent tariffs, which will be
effective retroactively to March 3. Those goods will be
taken from a list -- ranging from Scottish cashmere
sweaters to Italian pecorino cheese -- published earlier
in the dispute.