By Jonathan Lynn

GENEVA, Dec 15 (Reuters) – The European Union and United States initialled a deal on Tuesday with Latin American, African and Caribbean nations ending a decades-old trade war over bananas.

The pact ends the world’s longest-running trade dispute and also removes a potential obstacle to a new deal to open global commerce in the World Trade Organisation’s 8-year-old Doha round. Final signature is expected to take place next year.

“I’m very happy to see the longest-running trade dispute finally solved,” said European Trade Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. “History is being made today because this dispute has soured global trade relations for too long,” she told Reuters.

Under the deal, the EU -- the world’s biggest importer of bananas — will cut the duty it applies to bananas from Latin American countries such as Ecuador and Costa Rica which have long complained of discriminatory treatment.

It will also give aid of about 200 million euros ($300 million) to banana growers in certain African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.