` Olive Oil Importers Say Trade Commission Report 'Fell Short' - Olive Oil Times

Olive Oil Importers Say Trade Commission Report 'Fell Short'

Dec. 15, 2013
Curtis Cord

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The North American Olive Oil Association (NAOOA) said the report on an inves­ti­ga­tion into the olive oil indus­try by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) fell short of the objec­tive analy­sis that Congress requested,” and favored the nar­row per­spec­tive of the domes­tic industry.”

Favored the nar­row per­spec­tive of the domes­tic indus­try- Eryn Balch, NAOOA

In a copy of a let­ter to the USITC chair­man dated December 6 and obtained by Olive Oil Times, NAOOA exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Eryn A. Balch laid out the group’s response to the report released last September that some experts said would pro­vide ample grounds for trade actions and for­mal WTO com­plaints against E.U. olive oils imported into the U.S.

Report relies on unde­fined terms”

Balch com­plained that the report’s wide­spread reliance” on the terms low qual­ity” and high qual­ity” to describe olive oils that meet or exceed the International Olive Council extra vir­gin grade stan­dard led to the erro­neous impli­ca­tion” that some olive oils that make the grade are more wor­thy” than oth­ers that also meet the benchmarks.

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Fails to ques­tion the integrity” of UC Davis Olive Center reports

The USITC report cited var­i­ous stud­ies by the University of California at Davis Olive Center as facts to sup­port its find­ings even though the Olive Center is, Balch wrote, a mar­ket­ing agent for California olive oil with a vested inter­est in pro­mot­ing domestically.”

Advocates PPP and DAGs tests despite seri­ous flaws”

The importers’ group said the USITC report is too quick to embrace the chem­i­cal tests known as PPP and DAGs that domes­tic groups are push­ing as bet­ter meth­ods for deter­min­ing olive oil qual­ity. Balch said the tests were unre­li­able and favored olive vari­eties widely used in domes­tic production.

Focuses on domes­tic mar­ket­ing order

The USITC repeat­edly con­sid­ered a mar­ket­ing order pro­posed by some domes­tic pro­duc­ers, but failed to acknowl­edge alter­na­tives, Balch wrote, such as a research and pro­mo­tion order” that the NAOOA has been call­ing for.

In September, the International Olive Council weighed in on the USITC report, say­ing it may not be suf­fi­ciently objec­tive, cor­rob­o­rated or consistent.” 

The year-long USITC inves­ti­ga­tion, which cost an esti­mated $2 mil­lion, was requested by the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee chair­man, Dave Kamp, in October, 2012. The doc­u­ment exam­ines the com­plex global olive oil indus­try and the con­di­tions con­fronting American olive oil producers.

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