Spanish Table Olive Exports to U.S. Fall Further

Table olive exports from Spain to the United States fell by almost a third in the first half of 2020. U.S. tariffs are blamed for the steep drop.

Aug. 31, 2020
By Daniel Dawson

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Spanish table olive exports to the United States have fallen by 30 per­cent in the first half of 2020, accord­ing to data pub­lished by the Spanish Association of Table Olive Exporters and Producers (Asemesa).

In the first six months of the year, Spain shipped 32,000 tons of table olives to the U.S., down from 45,400 tons in the first six months of 2019.

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Antonio Mora, the sec­re­tary gen­eral of Asemesa, blamed two sets of U.S. tar­iffs for the sharp drop in exports.

Green olive imports from Spain cur­rently face a 25 per­cent tar­iff as part of a pack­age of coun­ter­mea­sures awarded to the U.S. by the World Trade Organization for ille­gal sub­si­dies pro­vided by the European Union to Airbus.

Separately, black olive imports from Spain face a com­bined 35 per­cent tar­iff, after the U.S. Trade Representative and U.S. Commerce Department accused Spanish olive pro­duc­ers of vio­lat­ing anti-sub­sidy and anti-dump­ing laws.


Some of these tar­iffs will likely be reduced after Spain con­vinced the United States Court of International Trade that it was not ille­gally sub­si­diz­ing its farm­ers. The Commerce Department has appealed.

In the mean­time, Mora argues that since the tar­iffs on black olives are spe­cific to Spain and the tar­iffs on green olives are spe­cific to Spain and France, the world’s largest table olive pro­ducer has been put on uneven foot­ing with other E.U. com­peti­tors, includ­ing Portugal and Greece.

Mora added that table olive pro­duc­tion is at least three times more expen­sive in Spain than it is in Portugal or Greece. He said that in Portugal the cost of pro­duc­tion is 10 cents per kilo­gram, while in Spain it ranges from 30 cents up to 90, depend­ing on whether the har­vest is done by hand or mech­a­nized.

Outside of the United States, which still makes up slightly more than one-fifth of the inter­na­tional mar­ket for Spanish table olives, exports to every other region of the world except to the Gulf states also slipped.

However, Mora attrib­uted this to the excep­tion­ally poor table olive har­vest expe­ri­enced by Spanish farm­ers in the 2019/20 crop year and the gen­er­ally good har­vests expe­ri­enced by many of the country’s com­peti­tors.

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