U.S. Considers New Tariffs on European Olives and Olive Oils

The U.S. Trade Representative is considering whether to increase existing tariffs on imports from the European Union as well as implement new ones.
By Paolo DeAndreis
Jun. 30, 2020 11:10 UTC

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) is review­ing exist­ing tar­iffs and con­sid­er­ing whether or not to impose new ones on goods imported from the European Union.

In October 2019, the World Trade Organization (WTO) gave the U.S. the right to impose $7.5 bil­lion worth of tar­iffs on imports from the E.U., as a result of ille­gal sub­si­dies pro­vided by the trad­ing bloc to the air­craft man­u­fac­turer Airbus.

Individually pack­aged olive oil imports from Spain and table olive imports from both France and Spain cur­rently face a 25 per­cent tar­iff. 

In a notice pub­lished last week, the USTR said these exist­ing import duties could be raised from their cur­rent level up to 100 per­cent.

Additionally, the USTR is con­sid­er­ing whether to impose tar­iffs on table olives and bulk and pack­aged olive oils from the rest of the trad­ing bloc, which includes Italy, Portugal, Greece, Croatia and Slovenia. 

U.S. offi­cials explained that tar­iffs on these coun­tries had pre­vi­ously been con­sid­ered and were now once again under con­sid­er­a­tion.

The total pack­age of tar­iffs that the USTR is now con­sid­er­ing is worth $3.1 bil­lion and would cover a range of other goods, includ­ing liquors, cheese, pork, pas­tries, cakes, hard­ware and clothes. 

While the USTR peri­od­i­cally reviews its list of cur­rent tar­iffs, this announce­ment comes right after the E.U. pub­lished its own list of poten­tial tar­iffs on U.S. goods

The trad­ing bloc is await­ing a rul­ing from the WTO on whether or not it can imple­ment these tar­iffs as a result of alleged ille­gal sub­si­dies pro­vided to the American air­craft man­u­fac­turer, Boeing. 

The WTO was expected to rule on the issue ear­lier this month, but delayed its deci­sion until at least September, cit­ing health con­cerns around the Covid-19 pan­demic

E.U. offi­cials imme­di­ately expressed their dis­ap­point­ment at the USTR’s announce­ment and have filed a for­mal com­plaint with the WTO about its deci­sion to delay the rul­ing.

The E.U. has long said it would rather nego­ti­ate an end to the tar­iffs than impose its own. However, observers doubt that an agree­ment could be reached before the WTO deci­sion is announced.


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