European citizens are major banana consumers, making the European Union (EU) the world’s biggest importer of bananas from Latin America (nearly 70%) and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries (around 19%). The EU's own production of bananas amounts to around 11%.
Banana imports to the European Union
Since 1 January 2006, the European Union has applied an import regime on bananas based on customs (known as a "tariff-only" regime) EU tariffs – market access database. Many countries around the world rely heavily on banana production and exports to boost their economies, and the EU’s import regime is designed to ensure market access for these developing countries at the same time as supporting European banana producers.
In addition, the EU has concluded specific agreements with various Latin American countries, the USA and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries:
- The 2009 Geneva agreement on trade in bananas is an agreement between the EU and certain Latin American countries, granting then "most favoured nation" status. It also covers the United States. Under the terms of this agreement, the EU is committed to gradually cutting import tariffs on bananas from these countries from €176/t to €114 /t, by 2019 at the latest.
More: Import tariff database
- Free trade agreements including a stabilisation mechanism
Since 2009, most of the major banana producers in Latin American have also signed free trade agreements with the EU: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. These agreements provide for a gradual reduction of the import duty for bananas from these countries down to € 75/t as of 1 January 2020. They also include a so-called ‘stabilisation mechanism’ that allows the EU, if it chooses to do so, to temporarily suspend the preferential tariffs when imports exceed pre-defined trigger levels and cause a serious disturbance on the EU banana market. These stabilisation mechanisms apply until the end of 2019, when the import duty will be set permanently at €75/t.
- Economic partnership agreements with ACP countries
A range of economic partnership agreements grant African, Caribbean and Pacific banana suppliers duty- and quota-free access to the European Union market.
The European Commission supervises closely developments on the banana market, monitoring the impact of decisions on prices and trade flows and regularly analysing the market. Effective market surveillance contributes to the prevention of market disturbances.
Up-to-date information on the EU banana market is available via a database, and is updated daily for countries covered by the stabilisation mechanism and weekly for all other countries. The Commission also publishes a banana market report which is updated three times a year.