On Wed, 19 Jan 2000 13:15:29 +0200, Klaus Wiegand wrote:
>some might have wondered, why the european community opposes
>the wto and the "dollar bananas", as we call them here. some
>is now in tatters because of the World Trade Organisation's ruling
>earlier this year that it was "unfair" to deny a market to the
>giant US and other agri-business corporations.
Interesting story. Here is yet another angle on this issue of bananas.
When the EU banana regulations came down, I was in Ecuador, working
with banana and coffee growers. Bananas and coffee growing together,
not two groups of farmers. Bananas are a common shade for coffee, and
within 24 hours of the decision I think every banana grower in the
country knew about it.
The EU policy was immediately devastating to Ecuadorian banana growers,
large and small. *Some* of Ecuador's substantial economic difficulties
today are directly related to that decision. Banana prices and foreign
currency inflows evaporated. Declining oil prices and diminishing oil
reserves have also been important factors in the difficulties, but it
started with bananas.
On returning to Quito a few days later for my flight north I heard on
my hotel television what to this day I believe is the *real* reason
behind EU policy, regardless of how they may wish to dress things up in
terms of "protecting" former colonies. Some French-speaking EU
bureaucrat on French television (satellite is amazing, eh?) said that
the purpose of the rule was to "benefit banana importers, who aren't
making enough money."
Their logic was that the quotas would simultaneously drive down the
world price of bananas (by creating a surplus) at the farm level, while
driving UP the price of bananas in Europe (owing to reduced supplies).
In this manner, traders' margins were to be increased, improving the
health of the European agri-food conglomerates.
Maybe the American megas are the ones squawking, but small banana
growers in South and Central America were badly hurt by the deal.
The irony of it all is that having eaten bananas regularly in Latin
America, I don't really consider what comes to Europe or to North
America to be a banana --- pale imitations, bearing superficial
resemblance to a banana, but definitely *not* bananas.
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