Support the banana producing countries of the Caribbean region
The Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) is urging all regional governments to support the banana producing countries of the region, in their fight to ensure that the European Union (EU) continues to provide an adequately preferential regime to secure the sustainability of the sector and the livelihoods of the thousands of farmers who depend on bananas.
The EU has recently announced that it will be replacing the current ‘tariff- quota’ system under which Caribbean bananas currently enter into the European Union preferentially with the ‘single tariff’ regime, which might essentially erode this preference and place Caribbean producers in more direct competition with cheaper bananas coming from Latin America.
The EU has indicated that this move is part of its reform to become WTO compatible, however, regional producers contend that this might mean social & economic devastation for the banana producing countries of the Windward Islands, including Dominica which is already experiencing a major economic down turn.
Poverty... has been returning to the front door
Dr. Ralph Gonsalves Prime Minister of St. Vincent , who recently hosted an international banana conference to look at the response to the challenges facing the banana industry indicated that “ Poverty... has been returning to the front door ...as a recent study indicated that for St. Lucia some 31,064 jobs, were lost from the banana fall-out between 1994 and 2000. The very core of the social fabric of rural society in these islands is at risk.”
The CPDC believes that CARICOM Ministers must make this issue a top priority as the implications of economic instability in the Windward Islands will reverberate throughout the entire region. Additionally, as well other countries will face similar challenges in the area of sugar and rum production as challenges against preferential access have been lodged with the WTO.
Shantal Munro-Knight Snr Program Officer of the CPDC states ‘We cannot contemplate a successful CSME if the large majority of countries are in a state of economic desperation, any dislocation which might result will reverberate throughout the region, the issue above all else is about securing sustainable livelihoods for constituencies in the Community we are trying to build.
For further information please contact Shantal Munro-Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org