The European Union and 11 Latin American countries have signed an agreement ending a two decades long trade dispute over banana tariffs.
The pact formally ends eight separate World Trade Organization (WTO) cases, was signed in Geneva by representatives of the EU, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela and Peru.
"This is a truly historic moment. After so many twists and turns, these complicated and politically contentious disputes can finally be put to bed," said the head of the WTO Pascal Lamy.
"It has taken so long that quite a few people who worked on the cases, both in the secretariat and in member governments have retired long ago."
Latin American banana exporters had protested against EU tariffs on banana exports designed to protect small growers in former European colonies in Africa and the Caribbean. Costa Rica was the first country to file a complaint in 1991 against the EU policy, starting the so-called “banana war”.
The pact formalized commitments set out in the 2009 Geneva Banana Agreement, prepared by negotiators from the EU, Latin America and the US. Under the terms the EU agreed in December 2009 to gradually reduce tariffs on Latin American bananas from 176 euros per tonne to 114 euros per tonne within eight years.
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