U.S. Ups Ante in Banana War

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WASHINGTON: The nation's capital is obviously in a fighting mood. With impeachment and Iraq having returned to a slow simmer, U.S. trade representative Charlene Barshefsky has turned the heat back up in the trade war on... Europe's banana imports. As early as February 2, the U.S. will impose 100 percent tariffs (effectively doubling the U.S. price) on European imports such as sheep's milk, cashmere sweaters, handbags, coffee makers and much, much more -- all to try to force E.U. countries to import more American bananas.

It's not as sexy an issue as biological weapons, to be sure. But the U.S. and Europe have been at each other's throats on this for six years, and the E.U., says TIME Brussels bureau chief James Graff, is not about to give up now. "The Europeans think the U.S. is just carrying water for the large corporations like Chiquita and Dole," he says, "and they feel that their obligations to their banana-growing former colonies come first." Barshevsky insists the list was designed to have minimal impact on U.S. jobs. But woe betide the poor, innocent cashmere addicts.