Business

Hundreds Protest Proposed Olive Tariffs in Spain

The tariffs on all types of olives are set to be discussed later this week and, if approved, come into force later this month.

Jul. 9, 2018
By Daniel Dawson

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Hun­dreds of olive farm­ers, oil pro­duc­ers and busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tives gath­ered in front of the United States con­sulate in Sevilla, Spain last Thurs­day to protest pro­posed Amer­i­can tar­iffs on Span­ish olives.

We reit­er­ate our absolute rejec­tion of the fix­a­tion of any type of tar­iff on table olives.- Rodrigo Sánchez Haro, Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture, Andalu­sia

The pro­tes­tors gath­ered to denounce the planned tar­iffs, call­ing them unjust” and abu­sive” as well as rais­ing con­cerns about their poten­tially dis­as­trous reper­cus­sions for the region’s exports and employ­ment.

The tar­iffs are set to be dis­cussed by the U.S. Inter­na­tional Trade Com­mis­sion (USITC) this week and, if the com­mis­sion decides to enact them, will come into force later this month. In 2017, Span­ish olive exports to the US totaled about $67 mil­lion.

We are very dis­ap­pointed with the US Depart­ment of Commerce’s deci­sion to impose anti-sub­sidy and anti-dump­ing duties on Span­ish table olive imports, espe­cially since the prod­uct is very pop­u­lar amongst US con­sumers,” José María Castilla, a lob­by­ist for the national wing of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Young Farm­ers (ASAJA), said. It is unjus­ti­fied and dis­pro­por­tion­ate and it goes against our com­mon agri­cul­tural pol­icy.”

Miguel López, the Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral of COAG Andalu­sia, said that 8,000 jobs are directly at risk and two mil­lion more are indi­rectly at risk because of the pro­posed tar­iffs. Already, he said, Agro Sevilla has laid off some of their employ­ees.

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To drive the point home and put a human face on these lay­offs, López invited a young man, iden­ti­fied only as the son of Raquel, up onto the stage dur­ing the protest.

Because of the tar­iffs and after six years in the com­pany, they have left him unem­ployed and he has had to leave Andalu­sia to find work,” López said. He had a life project and every­thing has been bro­ken.”

López insisted that Span­ish olive pro­duc­ers are in line with Euro­pean Union and World Trade Orga­ni­za­tion rules and called for the Euro­pean Union and Span­ish gov­ern­ment to defend the sec­tor from what he termed arbi­trary” tar­iffs.

Faced with this atti­tude that [U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald] Trump is main­tain­ing against all imports, and because this vio­lates all inter­na­tional agree­ments, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has to posi­tion and stand up for itself already,” he said. We also have to be defended.”

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion has already con­demned the tar­iffs on Span­ish olives with a spokesper­son label­ing them pro­tec­tion­ist” and promis­ing action from the Euro­pean Trade Com­mis­sion.

The pro­posed tar­iffs stem from anti-dump­ing com­plaints lodged by two Cal­i­for­nia com­pa­nies (Bell-Carter Foods, Inc and Musco Fam­ily Olive Co) last year. They have been com­pounded by anti-sub­sidy charges from the US Depart­ment of Com­merce, which argues that Span­ish olive farm­ers and pack­agers also ben­e­fit from unfair sub­si­dies”.

If the USITC decides to rat­ify the pro­posed tar­iffs, which most trade observers believe is highly likely, then import duties on Span­ish olives will rise up to 27 per­cent on July 24. The tar­iffs are said to cover all types of Span­ish olives, includ­ing all shapes, sizes and col­ors; pit­ted and unpit­ted; and whole, sliced, minced and wedged.

The Depart­ment of Com­merce will ensure a full and fair assess­ment of the facts, and, if the rules are being bro­ken, will act swiftly to halt any unfair trade prac­tices,” US Sec­re­tary of Com­merce Wilbur Ross said. The United States is com­mit­ted to a free, fair and rec­i­p­ro­cal trade with Spain.”

Anto­nio de Mora, the Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral of the Span­ish Asso­ci­a­tion of Exporters and Indus­tri­al­ists of Table Olives (ASEMA) believes that facts will trump feel­ings and instead of attend­ing the protests, has been hard at work prepar­ing a legal case against the tar­iffs.

ASEMESA is prepar­ing its defense in con­tact with the national and Euro­pean admin­is­tra­tions, with the assur­ance that the argu­ments on which these accu­sa­tions are based are false, for which rea­son we are gath­er­ing all the nec­es­sary infor­ma­tion and evi­dence,” he said.





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