PANAMA CITY, Nov 15 (Reuters): Latin American (LatAm) banana producers said Monday they would not budge in their stand against the level of import tariff proposed by the European Union (EU) in what has become a bitter and long-running dispute.
Representatives of Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras and Costa Rica said the EU should abide by the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) rulings and not seek to set a tariff unilaterally.
The EU's executive commission is poised to issue a fresh tariff proposal for Latin American bananas after its last two proposals were rejected by the WTO, which said they would discriminate against Latin American suppliers.
The different sides have been scrapping for months after the EU -- having lost the bitter "banana wars" of the 1990s at the WTO -- pledged to scrap a complex system of quotas and import duties for a tariff-only system to run from 2006.
The issue is over how high to set the duty, and the row pits Latin American exporters against rival producers among Europe's former colonies in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group who enjoy an exclusive EU duty-free banana quota.