* End to WTO's longest-running dispute seen in coming days
* Duties to fall to $114 a tonne by 2016, initial cut to $148
* Poorer ACP growers to get around 200 million euros
By Darren Ennis
BRUSSELS, Dec 4 A deal to end the world's
longest-running trade dispute over import tariffs on bananas is
virtually complete, but a final agreement may not be reached
until next week, diplomats involved in the talks said on Friday.
The European Union and Latin America had hoped to wrap up a
deal on Friday to end the 16-year-old "banana wars". An
agreement would also need the endorsement of African, Caribbean
and Pacific (ACP) countries and the United States.
"The deal is all but done. But we still need a few more days
to clear up some small technical issues in the legal drafting,"
a European diplomat told Reuters.
Latin American diplomats agreed that a deal was days away
and that there were no major issues left unresolved.
The pact aims to cut the tariffs paid on bananas from Latin
America and shield the European Union from further legal action
at the World Trade Organisation, which has condemned the EU's
Under the deal, the duties on bananas would fall to $114 a
tonne by 2016 or a few years later from $176, with an initial
cut to $148.
Poorer ACP growers in mostly former European colonies will
get around 200 million euros ($300 million) in compensation for
the negative effects the pact may have on the preferential
treatment given to them by Brussels, diplomats said.
Caribbean countries say their economies will be devastated
by a deal they see as inevitable. Banana exports are the
mainstay of their economies and adjusting to the loss of markets
is already hurting producers and communities on the islands.
Although the United States does not export bananas, it is a
party to the agreement because several big distributors and
processors such as Chiquita CQB.N, Dole DOLE.N and Del Monte
DLM.N are U.S. corporations. Another big distributor is the
Irish company Fyffes FFY.I.
"We are waiting for the United States to come on board, and
then it can be initialled," said another European diplomat.
Asked when that could be expected, the diplomat said: "It
takes what it takes." But the EU and Latin Americans had now
agreed on the deal, the diplomat said.
The deal -- removing an obstacle to an eventual agreement in
the WTO's long-running Doha Round -- is linked to a broader pact
in trade in tropical products, such as rum, tobacco, sugar,
arrowroot and cut flowers.
Concessions by Latin American banana exporters such as
Colombia and Ecuador, plus an aid package from Brussels, will
have persuaded the ACP countries to sign up to the deal, which
erodes their competitive edge in the lucrative European market.
Caribbean ministers said it remained to be seen how the aid
would be divided among ACP members with diverging interests.
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(Additional reporting by Jonathan Lynn in Geneva; editing by
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