Spanish Black Olives Exports to the U.S. Continue to Fall

The European Commission warned that the U.S. tariffs violate WTO regulations. But it will not repay Spanish producers for legal fees.

By Paolo DeAndreis
Jan. 30, 2023 14:48 UTC

Producers of black table olives in Spain will not receive com­pen­sa­tion from the European Commission to cover the legal expenses they are fac­ing while com­bat­ing the tar­iffs imposed by the United States on their exports.

At the last meet­ing of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Commission, the European Commission acknowl­edged that the tar­iff quar­rel is a prob­lem regard­ing not only Spain.” One of its top offi­cials noted how such tar­iffs are unac­cept­able” because they were adopted in vio­la­tion of the World Trade Organization reg­u­la­tions.”

See Also:Spain, E.U. React to U.S. Tariffs on Spanish Olives

The European Commission’s deputy direc­tor gen­eral for agri­cul­ture and rural devel­op­ment, John Clarke, stressed that table olive pro­duc­ers in Spain could find par­tial relief from the European Union’s rural devel­op­ment fund­ing.

He also noted that cur­rent reg­u­la­tions allow the Spanish gov­ern­ment to award up to €200 mil­lion over three years to sup­port spe­cific cases.

As reported by Euractiv, Clarke insisted that the European Union will con­tinue to work to remove such puni­tive tar­iffs. Still, he warned that legal expenses would not be refunded.

Before his remarks, table olive pro­duc­ers from Spain pre­sented a detailed list of the dam­ages caused by the U.S. tar­iffs. In their words, the tar­iffs have pro­voked a 68 per­cent cut in black olive vol­umes exported to the United States in the last five years.

According to Gabriel Cabello, pres­i­dent of the table olive depart­ment of the agri-food coop­er­a­tives of Spain, the void left in the United States’ black olive mar­ket is being filled by com­peti­tors from other European coun­tries not involved in the trade dis­pute and from North African pro­duc­ers.

Cabello noted that the United States black olive mar­ket is the most impor­tant in the world, which means that such tar­iffs directly affect the devel­op­ment of the whole sec­tor in Spain.

According to International Olive Council (IOC) fig­ures, table olives import vol­umes in the United States have grown sig­nif­i­cantly over the past few decades. In the 1990/1991 sea­son, the U.S. imported 68 thou­sand tons of table olives. Such fig­ures grew to 157.5 thou­sand tons in the 2021/2022 sea­son. Today the U.S. rep­re­sents a large share of global table olive imports.

As reported by Agroinformacion, in his speech, Cabello warned that the ille­gal tar­iffs” imposed by the U.S. vio­late the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union and its sub­si­dies.

Today, it is an action against one mem­ber state [of the European Union] only, and one sec­tor only, but it might be applied more widely to more sec­tors and more mem­ber states,” Cabello said. He noted that since the tar­iffs were imposed, more than €8.5 mil­lion has been spent in American courts by Spain’s entire table olive sec­tor.

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