DESPITE preliminary threats from developing countries, including Costa Rica, to derail any final accords that did not take into account their complaints regarding agricultural issues, the 149 member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) that met in Hong Kong as part of the Doha Round of world trade talks agreed to a deal that includes the disappearance of export subsidies in rich countries by the year 2013, but leaves many trade conflicts unresolved.
Costa Rica and several other Latin American banana-producing nations have been grappling with the European Union over a new import regimen for Latin American bananas that eliminates quotas and mandatory licenses and moves to a tariff-only system (TT, Dec. 2). However, Europe s proposed tariffs have been, according to Latin America, prohibitively high. WTO arbitrators have twice agreed with Latin America s position and ordered the Union to lower their proposed tariff, which has now been set at 176 euros ($207) per metric ton, and takes effect Jan. 1. The current tariff is 75 euros ($92) per metric ton.
Representatives from eight Latin American countries met with Union officials during the trade talks, which concluded Sunday, but did not make any headway in the conflict, the news service Reuters reported.