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Bananas

Volume 300: debated on Wednesday 12 November 1997

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18.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what support her Department will give to small farmers in the Caribbean currently dependent on the banana crop. [14125]

Current UK assistance (97–98, £6 million) aims to strengthen the infrastructural and policy framework within which new initiatives can flourish and to raise educational standards so that people can take advantage of new opportunities. This complements substantial EC resources designed to promote efficiency in the banana industry, agricultural and economic diversification.

22.

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has to challenge the World Trade Organisation judgment concerning Caribbean banana producers. [14129]

The present EU bananas regime represents a serious attempt to meet our obligations to developing countries, in particular the African, Pacific and Caribbean (ACP) countries. It is disappointing that some parts of the regime have now been found incompatible with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. The UK supported the EU in its appeal against the ruling of the Dispute Settlement Panel but the WTO Appellate Body upheld most of the Panel findings. There are no further avenues of appeal left open to the EU. As firm adherents of the WTO process, we naturally accept therefore that the Community's arrangements will need to be brought into conformity with the WTO' s rules.The Government are considering the WTO findings on the EU banana regime in liaison with the Commission in Brussels, who have the principal responsibility for proposing revised arrangements which conform to our WTO obligations. As leading advocates of the legitimate interests of those developing countries in the Caribbean who have traditionally supplied the UK market, we intend to play a major role in developing a solution to the problem and are examining a number of proposals. Caribbean banana producers can rest assured that we have their interest high in our agenda.