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Asprocan Complains that Guatemala has Exported More Bananas to the EU

19.7.2019

In May, banana exports from Guatemala to the European Union exceeded the volume of the stabilization mechanism, according to a press release from the Association of Organizations of Producers of Bananas of the Canary Islands (Asprocan).

However, according to the Association, the European Commission has decided not to apply the penalty provided by this mechanism in the midst of a price crisis for Community banana production.

In its decision of July 12th, the European Commission recognizes that imports from Guatemala this year stood 3.4% below the average price of the EU, which, in turn, has already been 7.4 % lower than 2018, the year in which a new negative price record was broken, says Asprocan.

The evaluation carried out by the European Union, which would affect Guatemalan exports for the months of July to December 2019, is however based on a market analysis from January to March 2019 and not on its possible future effects. Nor does it take into account the fact that Guatemala already exceeded the threshold in September 2018 and once again, this result had no consequences from the Commission says the Association of Producers.

Asprocan denounced the way that the case of Guatemala is added to that of Nicaragua, which already exceeded its threshold of banana exports at the end of March, again without consequences.

This confirms, insists Asprocan the effect noticed by the Community producers and generated by the fact that the temporary suspension of the preferential tariffs provided by the stabilization mechanism has never been applied despite the fact that there are warning thresholds for imports established for third countries.

In relation to the analysis made by the Commission on Community production, this month’s decision affirms Asprocan, has been taken considering the effect on the European production in the month of April, but without taking account of the current crisis affecting the entire European market in the current period of the year, while Guatemala, based on this decision, will be able to continue benefiting from a preferential tariff for its imports into the EU.

Since tariffs began to fall, exports from Latin America to the EU have increased more than 40%, from 3.5 million tons to 4.9 million tons. And in the case of Guatemala, Asprocan points out; between 2014 and 2018 exports to the EU have grown by more than 430% and continue to grow.

The Association of Producers criticizes that with this decision the European Commission also ignores the report of the European Parliament last March on human rights in Guatemala in which it expressly urged the European Union to uphold its complaint in view of the poor situation of the application of human rights in this country, and to use the mechanisms of the association agreement with Guatemala, to expressly “fight against impunity”.

This entire situation coincides, on the one hand, with the agreement between the EU and Mercosur, which will increase the risk of oversupply of bananas from third countries to Europe with the incorporation of Brazil to the preferential tariff, a country whose production is close to 7 million tonnes of bananas. And, on the other hand, with the negotiations already underway of the review process for the continuity of the free trade agreement that affects banana exports from Ecuador, Colombia and Peru to the EU.

As the sector has denounced, all the tariff prerogatives granted by the European Union are also granted without ensuring at any time that the production of bananas exported to the EU complies with the environmental, safety and phytosanitary production conditions in the same way that the European production complies, such as the Banana of the Canary Islands, concludes Asprocan.

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