The European Union has set the stage for a year of talks on tarriffs imposed on banana imports.

EU representatives announced Wednesday they are prepared to impose a $290 per ton duty, beginning in early 2006.

Latin American countries want an EU duty closer to $95 per ton. But a group of former European colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, and the Pacific, that enjoy other competitive advantages within the European market, want a tarrif $250 per ton higher.

Until the late 1990s, the European Union allowed the so-called ACP group to export bananas to Europe at lower duties and quotas than those imposed on bananas grown in Latin America. But the United States, with companies having Latin American operations, convinced the World Trade Organization those EU rules were discriminatory.

That has forced the European Union to negotiate a unified tariff for all exporters.