ACP Declaration on Bananas 28 May 2009

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The 34th ACP-EU Council of Ministers took place on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 May 2009 in the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels. Ministers from 79 African, Carribean and Pacific states met the members of the Council of the European Union and the European Commission and discussed trade issues, EPAs, the bananas issue, climate change, the economic and financial crisis and official opened the negotiations for the revision of the Cotonou Agreement in 2010.

On Bananas the ACP Ministers made a declaration in which they stated that the threat to the economies of ACP countries is clearly serious and that they have to act now to prevent its materialising. "We have noted that the EC has indicated that discussions are almost at an end with the MFN suppliers and the US, with whom it intends to sign the final deal by the end of June 2009. The ACP countries insist on the need to ensure that any deal should:
(i) include a peace clause settling alle outstanding disputes at the WTO;
(ii) include a Credit clause, by seeking the endorsement of the entire WTO
membership,
(iii) safeguard the interest of ACP countries
(iv) comply with the EU's contractual commitments, particularly those contained in the recently signed EC-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement, which provides for tariff reductions to be made only if "unavoidable" and that in any case they "should be phased in over as long aperiod as possible".

The ACP Ministers stated that the EC proposal will have disastrous consequences for ACP banana-exporting countries, unless a longer period for the reduction of preferences is given and adequate resources are provided to assist the countries in dealing with the impact of the reductions.

They reiterated that it is pointless to enter into any agreement in anticipation of a Doha settlement and that the EC proposal to the MFN countries is more far reaching than is required.

Joyce van Genderen-Naar
Lawyer/journalist Brussels

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