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Learning English - Words in the News
17 November, 2006 - Published 15:44 GMT
Banana war
A banana worker

Trade officials say that Ecuador has made a complaint to the World Trade Organisation about the tariffs the European Union imposes on imports of bananas. This report from Andrew Walker:

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The EU's banana tariff provides some degree of protection from competition to two groups of producers. One is foreign suppliers mainly in Africa and the Caribbean, which are usually former colonies of EU states. They have tariff free access for about three quarters of a million tonnes of their bananas.

The other group is producers inside the EU, in Spain, Greece, Portugal and French territories in the Caribbean. The single tariff on bananas from elsewhere - mainly Latin America - was introduced in January to replace a more complex system of tariffs and quotas which the WTO decided was incompatible with its rules. The EU was told to introduce a system that at least preserved the previous market access for other suppliers.

Ecuador has apparently decided that it does not do that and is reported to have made a complaint to the WTO. Several other Latin American countries were involved in early stages of this long running quarrel. So was the United States, because many plantations in South and Central America are run by US companies such as Chiquita. The EU has long been internally divided over the issue. Some countries, such as Germany would prefer an almost unrestricted market so that their consumers could get the best bananas at the lowest prices.

Andrew Walker, BBC

Listen to the words

a duty on a particular class of imports or exports


former colonies of
territories which used to be ruled by

made effective

unable to operate or exist together

a complaint
expressing dissatisfaction, a grievance

involved in
part of, concerned by

long running quarrel
an angry argument or disagreement that has lasted for a long time

large pieces of land, especially in tropical countries, on which crops (e.g. tea, rubber, sugar) are grown

unlimited, not held back or controlled

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