After prolonged and sometimes heated price negotiations over the past few months, Ecuadorian banana growers and exporters were unable to reach agreement on the price per case (18.14 kilograms) of exported bananas. Exporters wanted bananas to be sold for US$1.60 per case while growers were calling for US$3.60 per case. The former price would likely prompt more accusations on the part of competing nations that Ecuador is “dumping” bananas on the international market.

Due to the wide discrepancy in price demands and inadequate flexibility on both sides, the Ecuadorian government felt compelled to intervene and resolve the issue. In late December, the ministers of foreign trade and agriculture announced that the price per case during the first quarter of 2001 will be US$2.90. This represents an increase of US$0.72 relative to the December price of US$2.18 per case. Producers have already expressed their dissatisfaction at the government’s mandatory price, claiming that it does not cover rising production costs linked to fertilisation and fumigation.

By Steve Lewis, correspondent