The European Commission is due to take its final decision on the introduction of a first-come-first-served allocation of guarantee low-duty import quotas for Caribbean bananas. Its ruling College of Commissioners will meet on April 25, with a view to introducing the transition system on July 1, with the decision not requiring ratification by the European Union Council of Ministers. It is hoped that the introduction of the system will solve the long-running WTO battle over access to the EU banana market between Brussels, Washington and various Latin American fruit exporting countries. The system is to be replaced by a tariff only system by January 2006.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent