15. BANANAS: COMMUNICATION FROM THE
COMMISSION TO THE COUNCIL (8967/99)
Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of
the Committee, to Lord Donoughue, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry
of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
The Sub-Committee considered the Commission's
option paper on 21 July and agreed to lift the scrutiny reserve.
In doing so the Sub-Committee asked me to write to you to pursue
a point first raised by the Rt Hon Douglas Hogg, then Minister
of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in a letter to this Committee
dated 7 October 1996.
The letter explained why the then Government,
while arguing for liberalisation of the CAP, nevertheless supported
protectionist measures for bananas imported from ACP countries.
It said that the Government supported the Lome commitments to
the ACP countries, but was urging them to reform and restructure
their industries to prepare them for the more liberal trading
arrangements which were inevitable in the future.
I would be grateful if you could say whether
the present Government is similarly committed to reducing the
dependence of some Caribbean countries on banana production, given
that whatever option eventually chosen by the EU to reform the
banana regime will reduce the scope for banana exports from ACP
countries to the EU.
22 July 1999
Letter from the Rt Hon Joyce Quin MP,
Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food,
to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee
Thank you for your letter of 22 July to Bernard
Donoughue asking whether the Government is committed to reducing
the dependence of Caribbean countries on banana production.
I can assure you that the Government is fully
committed both to restructuring the Caribbean banana industry
so that it is more competitive and to reducing dependence on banana
Banana industry restructuring programmes are
underway in all the Caribbean producer countries and the UK is
actively involved in the Windwards programme acting as a member
of the donor advisory group. The main source of funding is currently
the EU's STABEX. STABEX funds are disbursed through a Framework
of Mutual Obligations (FMO) agreed between the EU and the recipient
governments, which determines how the funds can be used. This
includes direct aid for the banana industry to assist restructuring
and increasingly general developmental support. For example, recent
FMO allocations to St Vincent included funding for roads, health,
education, community development and agricultural diversification.
Specific allocations are also being made for social recovery plans
for ex-banana growers.
From 2000, it is expected that a new EU Special
Framework of Assistance will form the main source of funding,
targeted on the banana industry and economic diversification initiatives.
The UK is playing a full and positive role in developing this
In addition, through our bilateral aid programme,
the UK will be supporting initiatives in the Caribbean which promote
alternative sources of income and livelihoods. An Enterprise Adviser
will shortly be joining the Department for International Development
(DFID) office in Barbados and will be responsible for developing
programmes to address a range of issues, such as the regulatory
framework for the private sector, and entrepreneurial and business
skill training. Although focused on general enterprise development,
these initiatives will be of relevance to ex-banana growers who
need to find alternative sources of income and employment.
So far as the EU banana regime itself is concerned,
our aim is that the changes made to it should:
provide sufficient continuing support
to allow the restructuring process to be completed in a measured
reinforce the restructuring process
by providing the incentive to reform; and
provide the basis for a viable industry
in the future.
I hope this information is useful.
16 September 1999
5 Printed in Correspondence with Ministers,
5th Report, Session 1996-97, HL Paper 31, at pp 13-14. Back