Feeds

Hands off our bananas

On networking hardware, Cuban sanctions and...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

This story was filed originally in 1997 Following US complaints, The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has headed off a sneaky attempt by the European Union to reclassify networking hardware components as telecoms goods. This would have seen tariffs on non-EU imports on LAN hardware rise from 3 per cent to 7.5 per cent. However, the WTO has rejected the US’s attempt to stop the EU from reclassifying multimedia PCs as consumer electronics equipment. This would see tariff duties rise from 3.5 per cent to 14 per cent. The EU’s reasoning is bizarre. Equally bizarre, it has no intention of actually collecting the duties - as there is no indigenous European CD-ROM drive industry to protect. This case has more to do with the EU standing up to the playground bully, than with commercial logic. Successful action from the US and Latin American countries in getting the WTO to declare EU banana quotas illegal is far more controversial. The EU currently guarantees a percentage of the EU banana market to Caribbean growers. Most EU countries - especially France and the UK, which used to run colonies in the region - are in favour of the status quo. (Germany, which has the world’s highest per capita consumption of bananas is a notable exception). Claire Short, The British Government’s magnificent Minister for Overseas Aid, urges European consumers to boycott Latin American bananas. A letter from Mr Michael A. Samuels, of Washington DC, to The Financial Times , said such action would violate the WTO and undermine the integrity of that important body. As regrettable acts such as these would perpetrate massive unfairness and hostility towards hundreds of thousands of farmers and workers in Latin America, who like their Caribbean neighbours depend on EU banana sales to earn a living. "The unfortunate irony is that, as numerous economists have made clear, proposals of this kind are nothing more than a thinly effort to ensure that certain EU middlemen continue to be enriched." Let’s get this straight. EU middlemen are teddy bears compared with American banana middlemen. Take United Fruit, the effective owner of Guatemala for 50 years. In 1954, the company financed a CIA-engineered coup, when it feared it would lose control of its very own banana republic. The US is protecting companies such as United Fruit when it lobbies the WTO to change EU banana policy. Latin peasants can rot in the fields. The US likes the WTO. According to the estimable Joe Rogaly, a senior columnist on The Financial Times, "of the 101 cases filed in the first 2.5 years of the panel’s existence, 35 originated in the US - the principle base of global businesses, the world’s largest exporter, and the home of intergalactice companies, like Boeing, Intel, Microsoft ". "Funny about Intel being on that list. Not many years ago, Japanese manufacturers of semiconductors were regarded as a threat, likely to dominated world market, the US set numerical targets for exports of American chips to Japan. Today, the WTO is designed to free the world from such constraints." The US preaches free trade but it is all too willing to cite anti-dumping rules to protect its companies. US memory manufacturer Micron is a prime beneficiary of this readiness to levy fines and tariffs in the name of "fairness". It is also equally willing to ignore WTO policy - when it suits. US Cuban sanctions are clearly illegal, under international law. But Jesse Helms, the odious senator for North Carolina, and head of the US Senate’s foreign policy committee, is clearly far more important than principles of international law. With fellow sponsor, senator Dan Burton, Helms sponsored a bill that bars from entry in to they US any foreigner who uses property confiscated by Cuba that is claimed by a US national. It also allows companies doing business in Cuba to be sued in US courts. The European Union has expressed irritation with this US attempt to extend sovereignty beyond its shores. But so far it has funked outright confrontation. EU complaints to the WTO on Helms-Burton have faded into insignificance. Which brings us back to LAN tariffs. The US should have its way on networking hardware import duties. The tariff threat over multimedia hardware should also be lifted. But keep your hands off our bananas. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.