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Yes, they will have bananas

14 December 2009

Victory is ours!

What banana war? Since the 2001 “Doha Development Agency” of the World Trade Organization set up the ground rules for international tariffs, the biggest slip-up in international trade has been bananas.

Although meant to lower agricultural tariffs world-wide, the reality has been the larger countries sought to prop up corporate agriculture though exports, while denying their markets to imports from less wealthy nations. Although bananas don’t grow in Europe, Europeans like them… and there are still a few French Overseas Territories (like Martinique) that grown them… not to mention a lot of French and British corporations that control agriculture in former colonial possessions, especially in the Americas.

The upshot has been that — with high tariffs on Mexican, and Honduran and Ecuadorian, etc. bananas — Latin American nations have tariffs on European goods, and agricultural products from the former colonial possessions that are in the banana-biz. Bananas may not be such a big deal, but peel back the assumptions — that the rich countries get to play by a different set of rules than the rest of the planet — and the whole “free” part of “free trade” is called into question. Agricultural subsidies and tariffs, more than anything else, have called the whole assumptions of the World Trade Organization into question.  International trade agreements broke down in 2003 (in Cancún) over the agricultural subsides (the banana controversy being the symbolic issue) and have stalled since.

And, as a result of continual prat-falls with the WTO, the G-8 has become the G-20 as — in an attempt to fend off a fall in banana tariffs (ok, among other things) — the organization was forced to take in the “outsiders” if it was going to maintain the credibility is was rapidly losing, largely as a result of the banana tariffs.

Anway, today — finally — a banana tariff agreement has been reached. There aren’t any details yet, and it’ll probably suck if you’re a French fruit importer with extensive investments in Reunion, or an English shareholder with extensive investments in Belize, but for the European and Latin American consumer (and producer), this is a big win.

Long Live the Glorious Banana Republics!

One Comment leave one →
  1. 18 December 2009 5:28 am

    me gusta estas balana!

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