Times Staff and Wire Reports

U.S. Dismisses EU Banana Reforms: The United States has rejected plans by the European Commission to change banana import rules that it says harm U.S. companies. A U.S. official said a report presented by EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler did not address the main issue of a higher tariff quota for bananas from Latin American plantations where U.S. companies have major investments. The official said imports from Latin America are restricted by a tariff quota of 2.29 million metric tons a year, whereas more expensive supplies from former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean enter duty-free. The report only suggested redistributing import licenses to cater for the entry of three new EU member states--Sweden, Finland and Austria--which import Latin American bananas. The World Trade Organization may set up a disputes panel if no settlement is reached after 60 days.

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