Imports Rise in Spain as Big Brands Work Around U.S. Tariffs

Spanish companies are re-exporting more oils from Portugal and Tunisia to the U.S. to bypass tariffs.
Sep. 4, 2020
Eduardo Hernandez

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Spanish olive oil imports have reached a four-year high dur­ing the 2019/20 crop year, accord­ing to data pub­lished by the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.

A total of 208,500 tons of olive oil was imported into the coun­try between October 2019 and June 2020, a 71 per­cent increase com­pared with the same period in the 2018/19 crop year and an 86 per­cent increase com­pared with the aver­age of the pre­vi­ous four campaigns.

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Cristóbal Cano, the head of olive oil for the Agrifood Cooperatives of Andalusia, told Diario de Sevilla that the increas­ing imports in Spain are a direct result of the tar­iffs that the United States has imposed on pack­aged imports of Spanish olive oil.

As a result of the 25 per­cent import duty, which was imposed last October, Spanish olive oil exports to the U.S. have fallen by more than one-third in the first six months of 2020 com­pared with the same period in 2019.

Olive oil can­not go to the U.S. [pack­aged] with a Spanish brand, so very lit­tle is going,” Cano said. And the com­pa­nies that used to export have to import olive oil from other coun­tries in order to keep their brand and posi­tion. That is the rea­son why there was a sub­stan­tial increase in imports.”

Cano added that the major­ity of these imports are com­ing from Portugal and Tunisia.

In spite of the sig­nif­i­cant decrease in exports to the U.S., ris­ing demand for Spanish oils in Australia, Brazil, Canada and fel­low European Union mem­ber states means that there will be a mod­er­ate increase in exports in 2019/20.

The min­istry esti­mates this fig­ure to reach 1.36 mil­lion tons in the cur­rent crop year, 3.6 per­cent higher than the pre­vi­ous one and 13 per­cent more than the aver­age of the pre­vi­ous four seasons.





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