BRUSSELS, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Rules to protect banana growers in the European Union (EU) against any surge in imports from Ecuador after its accession to the EU-Colombia/Peru trade deal were approved by European Parliament on Thursday.
The rules were approved by 544 votes to 78, with 21 abstentions. Under the new rules, EU banana growers will be better informed and more involved in monitoring the market. Also, if there is a surge in imports, the EU trade regulators will have a legal obligation to act.
"Ecuador's accession to the trade agreement with Colombia and Peru has a significant impact on EU banana producers. It might possibly destabilize a sector which plays an essential role in the outermost regions and is responsible for 37,000 jobs," members of the European Parliament (MEPs) argued.
Ecuador, one of the world's biggest banana producers, joined the EU's trade agreement with Colombia and Peru in January 2017, after the deal was approved by the European Parliament last December.
As Ecuador will have preferential access to the EU market, the two sides have made a political agreement on a temporary stabilization mechanism to protect the interests of EU growers.
This mechanism, which enables preferences to be suspended once an annual threshold is reached, was struck by ministers and MEPs in December. European Parliament's negotiators also inserted an early warning system, which will be triggered when import volumes reach 80 percent of the threshold.
The EU is the biggest banana market, buying one third of global exports. EU imports come mainly from Latin America, while roughly 11 percent of European demand is met by regional producers.