Historically, bananas from the Windward Islands were exported to the UK under preferential conditions.   Such conditions were incorporated into the first EC/ACP Lomé Convention in 1975. Successive Lomé Conventions continued the preferences granted to the traditional ACP banana producing States including the Windward Islands.

Over the last decade, however, there have been numerous challenges by Latin American countries within the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement mechanism, to the EU's preferential ACP banana regime, as Latin American countries sought more access to the EU market.  On 15 December 2009, the EU agreed to gradually cut its import tariff on bananas from Latin American countries from 176 eruos per tonne to 114 euros per tonne by 2017 at the earliest. This effectively ended a 15 year dispute over EU banana imports, as the US agreed to resolve its related WTO dispute with the EU.

To help ACP banana exporters adjust to the new trading arrangements, the European Commission on 17 March 2010, adopted a 190 million euro support package for banana exporters from African, Caribbean and Pacific states, called the Banana Accompanying Measures (BAM), for the period 2010-2013. Execution of the support package will take into account each country's specific situation and will focus on boosting the banana sector's competitiveness, promoting economic diversification and addressing broader social, economic and environmental issues. Banana Accompanying Measures will be provided in addition to development aid from the European Development Fund.

The ten ACP countries that will benefit from the Banana Accompanying Measures are Belize, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ghana, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Under the EPA, traditional ACP banana producers now enjoy duty free, quota free access to the EU market. However, further reform of the banana sector remains necessary. In this context the EU is already providing financial assistance to banana producing countries Under the Special Framework of Assistance (SFA)

In total, some 377.8 million euros were allocated to the Windward Islands for the period 1994-2008 to enhance the competitiveness of their banana producers; diversify their agricultural sector, their human resources and their economies in general; and to create safety nets for former producers. The SFA programme is continuing to deliver support to this important commodity and the final actions agreed up until 2008 with respect to this programme will run through to the end of 2012.

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