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Fri, Jun 9, 2000
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EU Studying Ruggiero Banana Truce Plan
BRUSSELS — The European Union confirmed on Saturday that Renato Ruggiero, Director General of the World Trade Organization, had proposed a peace formula intended to head off a looming EU-US trade war over bananas.

"There's a sort of proposal by Ruggiero ... That proposal does not mean that the EU is going to accept it," a European Commission spokesman said.

Commenting on a report in Britain's Financial Times newspaper, he said EU officials were likely to mull the plan over the weekend, although no formal announcement was scheduled.

The United States intends to seek WTO approval on Monday to slap punitive 100 percent duties on a wide range of EU exports, from cashmere sweaters to pork, in a move Washington estimates could cost EU businesses $520 million a year.

On Thursday the EU responded by invoking the WTO's General Council. The other members of the 133-nation world trade watchdog fear the dispute could spread and undermine the WTO at a time of growing protectionist sentiment around the globe.

The dispute focuses on the EU's latest banana regime, introduced from January 1 in response to rulings by WTO panels that its predecessor violated WTO rules.

The United States, backed by five Latin American banana exporting countries, argues that the new regime, which still favors bananas from former European colonies mainly in the Caribbean, is little changed from its predecessor.

It estimates the loss of business to U.S. fruit marketing companies at around $500 million a year.

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