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The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has again censured the EU for failing to comply with global trading rules on its long running banana dispute with the US and Latin America.

An appellate panel of the WTO disputes settlement body found the EU’s discriminatory regime favouring the import of Caribbean and African bananas over Central and South American fruit does illegally harm US fruit companies.

The WTO said the EU’s stance “nullified or impaired benefits accruing to the United States” under the WTO’s general agreement on tariffs and trade (GATT).

Since this particular dispute procedure (one of many since 1996) focused on banana import rules since changed by the EU, the ruling will have a political rather than legal effect.

However, with attempts to finish the WTO’s Doha round continuing, and a banana deal an essential part of these talks, the ruling could be important. A WTO official explained: “This further clarifies what the law says on the issue.”