The President of the Dispute Resolution Body Shahid Bashir, Ambassador of Pakistan, presided over the signing by the EU and the ten Latin American countries of a “mutually agreed solution” (WT/DS16/8 document, Officially, banana disputes (DS16, DS27, DS105, DS158, DS361 and DS364) between the EU and Latin American countries Since then, a number of legal actions have been needed, including each country that has ratified the 2009 agreement and the EU, which introduces legislation and regulations on its implementation. After being accepted by WTO membership as part of the EU`s new commitment, it is now multilateral. Five Latin American countries (Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Venezuela) filed a complaint in 1993 against the EU banana import regime, in which they stated that they violated the basic principles of GATT. The GATT body confirmed this view, but its report was not adopted, as the required unanimity was prevented by the EU and the countries in the ACP group of countries that received preferential treatment under the EU`s entry regime. The following year, four of the five complainants entered into the BFA with the EU, giving them specific shares in the linked tariff quota to which they were subjected to the export of bananas to the EU.  Mr Lamy distributed legally certified copies of the revised EU commitments (WT/Let/868 document of 30 October 2012) replacing a complex and illegal WTO banana import regime with tariffs. These banana import duties fall to 114 euros per tonne each year. One of the REVISed EU commitments is the 2009 Geneva Banana Agreement. The WTO is the acidification of these revised obligations, which have now been accepted by WTO membership. If there is no agreement on a framework agreement (or “modalities”) in the Doha Round agricultural negotiations until 31 December 2013, these annual tariff reductions may be delayed by up to two years for the remaining years. The Banana Framework Agreement (BFA) contains provisions on treatment, the common area and banana production and other banana activities. It was concluded in 1993 between the European Union and Costa Rica, Colombia, Nicaragua and Venezuela following a dispute under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) on the EU banana import regime. On 9 June 2010, the EU and Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru and Venezuela, the Geneva Agreement on Banana Trade, which agreed on a series of preferential tariffs on imports of fresh EU bananas applicable from 2009 to 1 January 2017, and triggers any ongoing disputes between the EU and these nations known as “Latin American banana suppliers”.
The Geneva Banana Agreement was concluded in December 2009 by the EU, Latin American countries and the United States. The new EU commitments were distributed on 27 July 2012 in the form of a revision of the EU`s list (its official “timetable”) of commitments. WTO members were then granted three months of objections in accordance with WTO rules. In the absence of objection, the Director General certified the “schedule” at the end of October. “This is a truly historic moment,” said Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the WTO. “After so many twists and turns, these complex and politically controversial conflicts can finally be put to bed. It has taken so long that a number of people who have worked on these issues, both in the secretariat and in the governments of the Member States, have long since retired. Disputes date back to 1992 under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). They continued when the GATT became the WTO in 1995.
For more details and historical context, see this 2009 press release. One of the positive features of the disputes is that they have created a “rich source of jurisprudence” on WTO law, he said.