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Ecuador, Europe Fight Over Bananas

May 5, 2000

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ Ecuador said Friday it will ask the World Trade Organization for authorization to impose sanctions against the European Union for its rules on banana imports.

The EU has lost a series of cases in the WTO over its banana import rules, which favor imports from its former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean over bananas from Latin American producers and their U.S. exporters.

The United States is already imposing $191.2 million in sanctions each year against the European Union in the same dispute.

The World Trade Organization last month approved a report which said Ecuador was losing $201.6 million a year because of the EU banana regime and effectively gave the South American nation the green light to retaliate.

However, Ecuador did not immediately ask for WTO approval to apply the sanctions, saying it would give the EU ``a brief waiting period.″

On Friday, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Heinz Moeller told reporters after speaking with EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy that his country would pursue the sanctions.

Ecuador, the world’s largest banana producer, has said it may seek to impose sanctions by suspending agreements on ``intellectual property″ _ covering areas such as copyright, patents and performance rights.

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