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Banana Wars: European Globalization And The Effect On The Caribbean

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Autor:   •  May 7, 2011  •  2,262 Words (10 Pages)  •  839 Views

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The world today is continually becoming more and more advanced through the development of new technology and scientific data. This incremental process has sped up dramatically in the last two decades as technological advances make it easier for people to travel, communicate, and do business internationally. Thus, Europe has been a leader in this advancement and has contributed greatly to the process the world calls globalization. “Globalization is an objective, empirical process of increasing economic and political connectivity, a subjective process unfolding in consciousness as the collective awareness of growing global interconnectedness, and a shot of specific globalizing project that seek to shape global conditions.” Europe has followed all the examples in this definition and has been a key contributor, along with the United States, to connecting many countries economically. An important aspect in globalization and world economies is trade relations. Through the implementation of trade organizations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Single Market Act and North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA), countries are able to trade freely in order to boost their economies. However, as seen in the Caribbean, Europe and other world powers have abused the world trade systems, leaving these small nation-states vulnerable and dependent. One case in particular that abuses world trade relations is the banana import establishment. The dispute between the European Union (EU), the United States and the Caribbean over the banana import regime shows that an agreement prescribed to help the small banana growers of the Caribbean nations were overridden by corporate and supranational interests supported by international trade rules. Therefore, the bananas coming out of the Caribbean have both helped and hurt the economy, but more importantly helps explain Europe’s globalization motives and the effect it has in the Caribbean.

European countries and the Caribbean have had a relationship ever since Christopher Columbus discovered the region in 1492. With an imperialistic attitude Europe sought out to colonize the Caribbean community for production of goods in order to benefit themselves rather than the Caribbean civilians. From the point of view of the Europeans they believed the Caribbean was weak and needed to be colonized and changed. Therefore, in their viewpoint it was the European’s right to impose and dominate with violence if necessary in order to promote the ideals and traditions of the Europeans. It was not too long after the Europeans arrived that they were able to colonize the Caribbean which allowed European traditions, communities, and myths to strive. The Europeans were ridding all the traditions the indigenous people tried to establish and doing it in a corrupt manner. In addition, with the European belief in Social Darwinism, where the white race is supreme to all other races, it is not a surprise that they were able to establish their views on the predominantly black Caribbean. Thus, the Europeans were able to establish the ideology of a superior white race in the society, which has allowed and small-nation states in the South Atlantic to abide by the sometimes unfair European standards.

Moving centuries ahead in history, Europe has used its colonial authority to carry out its globalization methods and hold a powerful role in trade relations in the modern world. This has forced the Caribbean to rely on the decisions made by European countries because they are essentially in control of the political economy and global market. The states in the Caribbean find it necessary to maintain their relations with the Europeans because the Caribbean does not have enough capital to compete with foreign companies and industries. In addition, they do not have enough capital to execute a lone economic programme. “Many of the Caribbean’s smaller economies are heavily dependent upon one (or a few) traditional export commodities for which world prices are not likely to rise.” In particular, the main export goods in the Caribbean are bananas, where it relies on this natural resources to be a main contributor to the Caribbean economy. The exportation of bananas however, has caused much more controversy than expected and has caused many problems for both the European Union and the Caribbean.

The European banana program originated in the LomÐ"© Convention, a series of trade and economic cooperation agreements between the European Union and several Atlantic, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries. The LomÐ"© Conventions, first implemented in 1975, granted “trade provisions (that) included duty-free entry for many agricultural products important to the ACP, improved access for most other agricultural imports, and special protective measures for a few key commodities, such as bananas, sugar, and rum.” To further integrate Caribbean counties the European Banana Regime established in 1993, included various preferential trade agreements, remnants of European colonialism which facilitated banana imports into several European nations. One of its stated aims was to assist banana producers operating out of certain former European colonies. Essentially the program reserved a relatively small quota of banana imports for these former colonies.

The United States, after considerable prodding from Chiquita which has one of two major banana-trading companies with headquarters in the United States, took issue with the expressed altruism of the Europeans. The US complaint charged that the EU banana regime actually operated to deny American banana companies full access to European markets was in violation of fundamental free trade principles developed in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). In 1997, the WTO sided with the United States and ruled that the EU must change its preferential policy. In addition, “the WTO subsequently authorized the US to impose sanctions of $191 million on a range of EU exports to the US.” The EU originally resisted the ruling because banana production in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific is not competitive with the major companies in Latin America. Moreover, the EU argues that the 1975 LomÐ"© Convention entitles it to aid signatory countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific colonies for which “banana production generates up to 70 percent of total export earnings and up to a third of all jobs.” According to the European Commission, however, “these countries account for less than a third of the 3.9 million metric tons of bananas annually consumed in Europe; Latin America accounts for over two-thirds.”

As seen above, the banana wars were about much more than bananas in

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