Europe

European Commission Asked to Act on Threat of U.S. 'Trade Barriers'

Nov. 2, 2012
By Julie Butler

Recent News


Concerns about poten­tial harm for European exporters from the pro­posed United States olive oil mar­ket­ing order have been raised in the European Parliament by one of its Spanish Members.

In an as yet unan­swered writ­ten ques­tion on October 23, María Auxiliadora Correa Zamora asked what the European Commission plans to do about the “non-tariff bar­ri­ers.”

“A debate is taking place in the USA over the intro­duc­tion of a Marketing Order for olive oil. If the Marketing Order is approved, a number of non-tariff entry bar­ri­ers could be intro­duced, which would prove very dam­ag­ing for EU olive oil exporters.”

“Has the Commission been in con­tact with the U.S. author­i­ties over this matter? What is the Commission’s posi­tion? What mea­sures will the Commission take to defend the inter­ests of the European olive oil sector and pre­vent this law from being passed?” she wrote.

From Spain’s ruling con­ser­v­a­tive People’s Party (PP), Correa Zamora is a member of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade.

As reported in Olive Oil Times, the mar­ket­ing order has become a hot issue in the indus­try. California pro­duc­ers say it could reduce the amount of poorly labeled and sub­stan­dard olive oils arriv­ing from over­seas, lev­el­ing the play­ing field for local pro­duc­ers to com­pete with imported olive oils.

Advertisement

But Gregorio López, head of the olive sector at Spain’s Coordinator of Agricultural and Livestock Organizations (COAG), fears the pro­posed restric­tions will result in Spanish olive oils being “held up at cus­toms.”

And Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment for the regional gov­ern­ment of Andalusia, Luis Planas, has threat­ened to go to the World Trade Organization if the U.S. per­sists with mea­sures he said pose “unfair com­pe­ti­tion” and involve “vested inter­ests” trying to close ports to Spanish olive oil.

Market leader Italy accounts for about half of all olive oil sold to the US. Spain comes second with about a quar­ter of sales but is gain­ing share from Italy, mainly via bulk oil. The U.S. is Spain’s second biggest olive oil market after Italy.

Advertisement

Spain had a record har­vest of 1.6 mil­lion tons of olive oil in 2011/12, of which it exported about 875,900 tons, the latest Olive Oil Agency fig­ures show. Its car­ry­over stocks of 690,800 tons exceed the dismal output of just over 625,000 tons it expects this season.

Advertisement