Banana producing countries at risk
A recent study has revealed that the Windward Islands could stand to lose millions of dollars in revenue and suffer massive job losses as a result of decreased banana exports and restructuring in the banana sector. In this light, the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) is calling on CARICOM Ministers to make the issue of the economic stability for these banana producing economies a top priority at their upcoming Heads of Government meeting scheduled to take place in Grenada July 4th - 7th 2004.
According to Shantal Munro-Knight Snr Program Officer of the CPDC ‘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.’
European Union changing quota
In addition Ms Munro-Knight adds that the situation will become even worse as the European Union (EU) has recently announced that it will be replacing the current ‘tariff- quota’ system under which Caribbean bananas currently enter the EU 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.
CPDC is therefore urging regional governments to support the banana producing countries of the region, in their fight to ensure that the (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.
These startling revelations came to light at a recently held international banana conference in St. Vincent aimed at looking at responses to the challenges facing the banana industry.
PRESS RELEASE 22 june 2004
For further information please contact Shantal Munro-Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org