ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Struggling African banana producers called on the European Union on Friday not to cut tariffs on imports from Latin America any further.
Exporters in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) have been losing market share since 2009, when the EU agreed to progressively cut tariffs on bananas from bigger growers in Latin America.
That reduced the advantage previously enjoyed by ACP growers in mostly former European colonies, who have tax-free access to European markets, although the EU agreed to provide them around 200 million euros ($220 million) in compensation.
At a convention in Abidjan, banana industry representatives from Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ghana urged the EU not to cut tariffs on Latin American producers below 75 euros/tonne, the rate which will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
They cited recent trade discussions between the EU and Colombia, Ecuador and Peru that they fear could lead to even lower tariffs.
“The African, Caribbean and Pacific producers are worried about the constant weakening over the past few years of their access to the European market,” said Gervais Kacou, spokesman for an association representing African banana producers.
The African producers also called on the EU to continue to support their farmers when the current compensation scheme expires at the end of this year.
The EU ambassador to Ivory Coast, Jobst von Kirchmann, told the convention on Wednesday that the EU would support ACP producers but did not provide specifics.
Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ghana’s combined banana exports to Europe fell to 600,000 tonnes last year, from 660,000 tonnes in 2017. Latin America now accounts for about 70% of the EU’s banana imports.
Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Editing by Aaron Ross and Mark Potter