EU close to deal on banana tariffs

A worker picks up bananas during the packing process on Bananera El Esfuerzo farm in 28 Millas de Siquirres, Costa Rica July 17, 2008. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European trade leaders are on the verge of agreeing to significant cuts in tariffs on bananas imported from outside the African and Caribbean region, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

“We are hopeful we can initial an agreement this week,” the source said, commenting on a deal which would end a long-running dispute with exporters in Latin America, who do not benefit from the preferential tariffs granted to African competitors.

“We have to agree what will happen with regard to the Doha round on tropical fruits,” said the source, confirming a Reuters report about an imminent deal on the world’s longest-running trade dispute earlier this month.

“We are hopeful that an agreement on bananas will give a momentum for a positive result for world trade,” he added.