`Spain Wins First Battle Against U.S. Tariffs on Table Olives


Spain Wins First Battle Against U.S. Tariffs on Table Olives

Jan. 30, 2020
Costas Vasilopoulos

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The United States Court of Inter­na­tional Trade has issued a rul­ing, declar­ing some of the inter­pre­ta­tions of the Tar­iff Act made by the Amer­i­can Com­merce Depart­ment to be arbi­trary, and lay­ing the ground for lift­ing or reduc­ing duties on Span­ish table olives.

Duties of around 35 per­cent were imposed by the Amer­i­can Depart­ment of Com­merce on imported Span­ish black olives back in 2018, based on the rea­son­ing that they were receiv­ing unfair sub­si­dies and were sold at unjus­ti­fi­ably low prices in the Amer­i­can mar­ket.

The Euro­pean Union had taken legal action at the World Trade Orga­ni­za­tion against the U.S. tar­iff regime, which led to the court’s rul­ing.

The court top­pled the Depart­men­t’s ratio­nale by deter­min­ing that the sub­si­dies the Span­ish olives were receiv­ing were not spe­cific, and the pro­duc­tion of olives was shaped by the weather con­di­tions and not the mar­ket demand.

The rul­ing is a very impor­tant endorse­ment of the EU’s legal action at the WTO,” the Span­ish asso­ci­a­tion of olive exporters (ASEMESA) said, look­ing to a reduc­tion of the imposed tar­iffs to 20 per­cent from the 35 per­cent cur­rently imposed.


Span­ish olive pro­duc­ers said that their exports to the Amer­i­can mar­ket were reduced by 50 per­cent since the tar­iffs were intro­duced almost two years ago.

The U.S. Com­merce Depart­ment can present argu­ments to the Court of Inter­na­tional Trade to sup­port the duties scheme within 90 days from the court’s rul­ing.

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