The US has lost an appeal at the World Trade Organisation against a ruling that it acted against world trade rules by imposing provisional sanctions on European Union exporters – because Brussels had failed to comply with earlier rulings in the long-running Caribbean bananas case – before the WTO had given Washington official permission to take such action.

But the European Union’s victory in the latest round of the drawn-out dispute is hollow. The appellate committee ruled that because the provisional sanctions had been replaced by official WTO approved measures, it would not take any further action to punish the US for its transgression.

By Keith Nuthall, correspondent