The European Commission has presented a revised proposal of €187 (US$229.8m)/tonne for most favoured nation (MFN) suppliers of bananas.

The new tariff is intended to replace (as of 1 January 2006) the present regime based on tariff quotas for MFN - mostly Latin American - supplying countries. The Commission's proposal also maintains an equivalent level of preference for ACP bananas through a tariff quota for 775,000 tonnes at zero duty.

The proposed MFN tariff is designed to maintain total market access for MFN suppliers, in line with the results of the WTO arbitration, which had been established after a request of Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela. The Commission will now engage in consultations with its Latin American partners for the introduction of the tariff only regime as from 1 January 2006.

"We are confident that our revised proposal is fully in conformity with the ruling of the WTO arbitrators. It was always our intention that the level of protection would not change under our new import regime. We have calculated the proposed tariff in a neutral and transparent manner. Following the WTO arbitration award on 1 August 2005, we have revised our proposal and we now look forward to consulting constructively with our Latin American trading partners. We are fully committed to putting into place a tariff only system for MFN imports by 1 January 2006, in accordance with the agreement on bananas approved by consensus in Doha in 2001," said Mariann Fischer Boel, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

The EU agreed with Ecuador and the United States in 2001 to move from a complex import system based on a combination of tariffs and quotas for MFN bananas to a regime solely based on a tariff by 1 January 2006.