The European Commission has said it is disappointed with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) arbitrators' ruling against the EU's proposed banana import tariff.

The Commission said it will study carefully the implications of the decision. The Commission had proposed a single tariff of €187 (US$227.2) per tonne for bananas imported from countries - mainly in Latin America - enjoying Most Favoured Nation status, as well as a duty-free quota of 775,000 tonnes for ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) bananas, as from 1 January 2006.

The Commission said it is "regrettable that the arbitrators did not use this opportunity to provide more clarity as to how this long-standing dispute could be resolved".

"We are surprised and disappointed that the arbitrators did not back our proposal. We believed that the system we proposed would have maintained access to our markets in a fair manner. We calculated the proposed tariff in a neutral and transparent manner, based on a comprehensive legal and economic analysis. We will now carefully study the decision before deciding how to proceed," said Mariann Fischer Boel, EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.