The long negotiations with the European Union (EU), the advantage that Colombia had following the signing of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with U.S. and the fee raise made by Panama for the use of the canal worry agricultural exporters of bananas in Ecuador. On the latter subject, Panama threatens to raise the rate by 7.5% from 1 July this year to 15.5% in 2013, per ton of displacement.
“You may say that only a few cents have been added to the value, but 60 or 70 cents are significant on a box of bananas, especially when we have to pay about $ 0.07 per box for the European Union,” said Eduardo Ledesma, director of the Association of Banana Exporters of Ecuador (AEBE for its Spanish acronym).
With this scenario, the country loses competitiveness. And again this year, a record drop might be recorded in abroad shipments of the fruit, because of low productivity caused by the severe winter, said Ledesma. 50 000 hectares were affected by excess water during heavy winter that is about to finish.
Projections of the Banana Industry Association of Ecuador (Asisbane for its Spanish acronym) estimate that the fall will be between 20 and 30 million boxes until the end of year, because the production infested with black sigatoka fungus is being rejected.
Another aspect that makes the wrong position to Ecuador is the lack of commercial approach to foreign markets, especially when competing countries agreed to arrangements that improve their conditions of sale. “All our competitors get ahead of us causes us harm,” said Cecilio Jalil, director of Asisbane.
He adds that the EU is an important market to watch because it is the country’s main banana market. Jalil said that while the average price per box of bananas are up $ 1 compared to last year, Ecuador does not have the tools to take advantage of this situation, due to low volumes of productivity and lack of preferential access to new markets. This entails that the fruit from neighboring countries more competitive in at least $ 1 apart.
From today until next Thursday, the IX International Forum of Bananas will be held in Guayaquil. The forum will be held at the Hilton Colon Hotel where Ecuadorian producers and exporters, representatives of plastic input suppliers and producers of Latin American countries will meet. All problems in the banana sector will be discussed in the forum, which includes topics such as the economic outlook for 2012, the Panama Canal, the financial crisis in developed countries and its impact on Latin America and the Caribbean. (MZ)