Bananas: US & Europe slipping into import/export war, price doubled on certain imports : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

[If you want to add a low-tech Bodun coffee press to your stash, better do it today before new stock comes in at sky-high prices. It's important to keep an eye on this developing problem because if things don't work out, 100% tariffs will be placed on goods not quite so luxurious.]

Today's Electronic Telegraph (London):

Emergency trade talks to avert banana wars, By Robert Shrimsley, Chief Political Correspondent

THE European Union last night called an unprecedented crisis meeting of the World Trade Organisation in a desperate attempt to prevent an all-out trade war with the United States in the dispute over banana imports.

America faced a welter of diplomatic protests from London, Paris, Tokyo and Brussels as it maintained its hardline stance. Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State, is to hold talks with Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, in London today. She will use a fuel stop on a flight home from the Far East to discuss the growing furore.

The WTO will meet on Monday in an attempt to resolve the row over the American decision to impose punitive sanctions on a range of unrelated export goods which could cause huge damage to a number of British exporters, notably the Scottish cashmere industry. The sanctions threaten up to 2,400 British jobs in a range of EU industries exporting products worth up to #140 million.

The emergency meeting was called after nearly a day of protests failed to shift Washington from its actions against what it sees as illegal EU quotas on banana imports from the dollar economies of Latin America. Even a personal appeal from Tony Blair to President Clinton on Thursday night appeared to have failed to soften the US stance. Mr Blair said yesterday that he expected to talk to the President again "to make sure we get this thing sorted out".

The US ambassador, Philip Lader, was summoned to the Foreign Office 24 hours after he received a dressing-down from Stephen Byers, the Trade Secretary.

But after a 25-minute meeting with Baroness Symons, the Foreign Office minister, Mr Lader emerged defiant, saying that the EU must "play by the rules". Washington has imposed 100 per cent tariffs on a range of EU imports such as pork, pecorino cheese, biscuits, candles, cartons, bed linen, cashmere sweaters and coffee makers. The move enraged EU governments because the WTO had been due to rule on the banana issue on April 12.

Europe has delayed plans to ban US aircraft fitted with "hush kits", in a row over the most effective way to reduce aircraft noise.

[An earlier article in the Telegraph, cut and pasted below, explains why the Brits and Europeans are so angry. Note: this is hte first time in history that a US ambassdador to Britain has been "dressed down"--not even Joseph Kennedy.]

US warns EU as ruling fails to halt banana war, By David Wastell in Washington and Julian Coman in Brussels ". . . European Union diplomats remain pessimistic about the chances of persuading the US to back down, blaming a combination of the impeachment process and the formidable lobbying power of the US-owned banana distributor, Chiquita Brands International, for the administration's hard line. Chiquita stands to make substantial extra profits if the EU changes its rules.

A commission insider said: "This war is being conducted in the interests of Chiquita."

Newly released files from the Federal Election Commission, examined by The Telegraph, show that in the run-up to last November's elections, Carl Lindner, the businessman who heads the company, and other members of his family made scores of individual donations of $1,000 (#600) a time - the maximum allowed by law - to the campaign funds of at least 25 members of Congress. These include 12 senators and 13 victorious members of the House of Representatives, all but one of whom were Republican.

Among them were three members of the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which covers trade matters, and Trent Lott, the Senate majority leader, who received contributions totalling $10,000.

The individual donations were in addition to $860 million given to both Republican and Democrat party organisations nationally by Mr Lindner and his American Financial Group corporate empire, which controls Chiquita.

The White House promised late last summer to take up trade sanctions against the EU in an effort to prevent Congress enacting a law which would have compelled retaliation over bananas.

One official said: "Trent Lott is driving this as well as running the President's trial and the last thing anybody wants right now is to upset him. . . ."

-- Old Git (, March 06, 1999


Old Git, are you old enough to have read the history leading up to the crash of '29 (1929 that is)?

As I recall, we had a trade war that began then, as well.

What's that phrase, "Those who don't learn history are doomed to repeat it?"

-- De (, March 06, 1999.

OG, haven't the Caribbean subjects of your benevolent empire been on the dole long enough?

-- BananaPuddintame (, March 06, 1999.

De, If you want to understand how the great Depression came to be I would suggest the following books, A Monetary History of the United States by Ruth(?) & Milton Friedman, Fifty Centuries of Wage and Price Controls, Holt's books between 1975-1983, The Creature of Jekyll Island.

Yes import/export fiddling didn't help, but like stock market margins, that is just one aspect of the causes of the great depression.

-- Ken Seger (, March 06, 1999.

BananaP - I haven't got an empire anywhere, benevolent or otherwise. I posted that information so people could understand why the Brits and Europeans are upset, not to support one side or another. I'm ambivalent about the potlicial causes, six of one, half a dozen of the other. My point in posting the trade war stuff is to remind people that a trade war hurts ordinary people via lost jobs and higher prices and to stock up on those items likely to become expensive if this continues (as it appears it will). You see, if the US keeps up the 100% tariffs, then the Brits and Europeans will kick in with 100% tariffs of their own on US goods imported into Europe.

-- Old Git (, March 06, 1999.

OG, I only posted to get in that "Dole" pun. Did Chiquitit? What's politics?

-- Puddintame (, March 06, 1999.

Sorry, zipped right by me at a fast clip. Must keep my eyes peeled. Hard to do on a few hours sleep when you're a

-- Sleepy Old Git (, March 06, 1999.

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