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European assistance for African banana producers
African banana producers are worried about the possible decrease in custom tariffs for exporters from Central America (Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica). In 2010 the customs tariff had already been decreased from 176 to 145 euro/ton and will be decreased to 75 euro/ton in September again. According to Apibana (African Pineapples and Bananas Association), which was started in January to hamper the plan of the European Commission, the African export to Europe will decrease by 15% whilst the American export will increase by 17% because of the changes.
With 550,000 tons of exported bananas in 2010, Africa (Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Ghana) represent hardly more than 10% of the quantities sold in Europe. American production (2.4 million tons) now already profits from the advantages of scale as a consequence of which they can offer more attractive prices.
According to Apibana it is important to invest in the African production and that this is improved. The organisation has been allocated an amount of 190 million euro (for three years) in order to improve its competitive position, especially by improving the infrastructure and working conditions of the producers.
The African banana production employs no less than 50,000 people and has an average turnover of about 230 million Euro. The sector enjoys an EPA, making free trade with Europe possible, but this may possibly not be renewed in 2014. Apibana is of the opinion that the European Union must sign this agreement again at any price to allow the sector the possibility to retain its privileged position. Also the sector will have to find other markets, especially on the Arabian peninsula.
Also in other African countries development projects are in existence. In Mozambique and Angola world leader Chiquita have signed a cooperation contract to increase production (investment expenses 45 million euro) and in this way to benefit from the European preferential tariffs.
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