Dole Food Company Inc. (NYSE:DOL) Tuesday announced its support for the action taken today by the European Union (EU) to reform its banana import regime to comply with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.

Today, the Agricultural Council of the European Union voted to adopt a regime that calls for a five-year continuation of import quotas and a change to a tariff-only regime on Jan. 1, 2006. Rights to import bananas during this transition period will be distributed on a “first-come-first-served” basis. The EU Commission will now proceed to enact detailed regulations and implement the new regime by April 1, 2001, in accordance with its mandate.

Dole Food Co. has studied the package that was adopted by the EU General Affairs Council and has consulted Professor Raj Bhala of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., one of America’s foremost experts on WTO law and procedure. Dole believes that the first-come-first-served licensing system is consistent with WTO agreements.

David DeLorenzo, president and chief operating officer of Dole Food Co., said: “This long-standing trade dispute over banana exports to Europe has caused great uncertainty to the banana industry. The action taken today by the EU should bring that uncertainty to an end. I believe that the banana industry participants look forward now to moving on with the management of their respective businesses with clearer guidelines for competing within the European market.

“The first-come-first-served system is a non-discriminatory method for allocating import rights for Latin American bananas to the EU, which Dole supports. The regime adopted today also preserves imports from African-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) countries.”

Dole Food Company Inc., with 1999 revenues of $5.1 billion, is the world’s largest producer and marketer of high-quality fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and fresh-cut flowers, and markets a growing line of packaged foods.

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This release contains forward-looking statements based on current expectations that involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Forward-looking statements, which are based on management’s current expectations, are generally identifiable by the use of terms such as “expects,” “will,” “continue” and similar expressions. The potential risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied herein include weather-related phenomena; market responses to industry volume pressures; product and raw materials supplies and pricing; changes in interest and currency exchange rates; economic crises in developing countries; and quotas, tariffs and other governmental actions. Further information on the factors that could affect Dole’s financial results is included in its Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K.