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U.S. goes 'bananas'

Packagers who buy folding cartons from Europe for toothpaste, cereal, cosmetics, glassware and a host of other products better get ready for sticker shock.
FILED IN:  Applications  > Food  > Baking products

Sometime before March 3 import tariffs on those cartons will increase from 1.7% to 100%. Folding cartons are one of 16 categories of imports from the European Union whose tariffs are being boosted to 100%. This is being done in retaliation for European Union import restrictions on bananas from the U.S. In 1997 $25 million in folding cartons came into the U.S. from Europe according to Gary Stanley forest industry product specialist at the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. Germany was the leading exporter here with $9.5 million. Finland was second at $3.6 million. Stanley says for 1998 up through October folding carton imports from the EU were up about 10%. Marla Donahue president of the Paperboard Packaging Council says those EU imports are less than 1% of the folding cartons sold in the U.S. So the 100% tariff won't have a big effect here except on those companies that purchase them now. If the European folding cartons are specialty items the U.S. buyer may have trouble finding an alternate supplier. But if they are garden-variety folding cartons finding a U.S. vendor shouldn't be a big problem. Charlene Barshefsky the U.S. trade representative explains that the U.S. acted to increase the tariffs only after the EU declined to accept World Trade Organization rulings stating that EU import restrictions against bananas from the U.S. and some Latin American countries were illegal. Because the Netherlands and Denmark voted against EU banana import restrictions imports to the U.S. from those two countries will not face higher tariffs.

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