On Tuesday, GUE/NGL MEP Helmut Scholz (DIE LINKE, Germany) hosted a conference on sustainable production and fair trade in the banana sector, as follow up to his mission to Ecuador last spring. 

Jorge Acosta, representing the Ecuadorian banana sector trade unions, spoke about the inhumane situation of Ecuadorian banana farmers, who work under conditions of modern slavery, as recognised by the UN. 

Yorgos Altintzis , representative of the International Trade Union Confederation, and Karin Ulmer, Senior Policy Officer at ACT Alliance EU, talked about trade and sustainable development issues from a civil society perspective. Fabienne Yber provided analysis from the EU Fair Trade Advocacy Office. 

Their interventions were followed by a constructive debate with the participation of MEPs from different political groups. Attendees explored the role of the EU to monitor compliance with the ILO’s  Freedom of Association Convention No. 87 within the framework of the EU-Ecuador free trade agreement. There was agreement on steps the EU could take to promote measures towards sustainable production in the banana sector through its trade agreements.

Participants also highlighted the need to effectively address the problem of social dumping in international trade of bananas to ensure a level playing field. 

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