Spanish Table Olive Producers Demand Countermeasures Against U.S. Tariffs

The Interprofessional Organization of the Table Olive Sector asked the Spanish government and the European Union to investigate U.S. government subsidies that have recently been provided to American farmers.

Spanish green olive exports to the U.S. now face a 25 percent tariff
Oct. 23, 2019
By Daniel Dawson
Spanish green olive exports to the U.S. now face a 25 percent tariff

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As Amer­i­can tar­iffs are imposed on Span­ish green olive imports, an umbrella group of table olive pro­duc­ers has sent the Span­ish gov­ern­ment a list of demands.

Chief among them is a request that the gov­ern­ment asks the Euro­pean Union to begin inves­ti­gat­ing whether the United States unfairly sub­si­dizes its farm­ers.

Dia­logue is not incom­pat­i­ble with the adop­tion of pres­sure mea­sures as the U.S. nor­mally does.- Anto­nio de Mora, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of Asemesa

The Euro­pean Union must imme­di­ately open an inves­ti­ga­tion into the aid that the United States gives to its farm­ers as the basis for a request for the impo­si­tion of counter tar­iffs in front of the World Trade Orga­ni­za­tion (WTO),” the Inter­pro­fes­sional Orga­ni­za­tion of the Table Olive Sec­tor (Inter­a­ceituna, as it is abbre­vi­ated in Span­ish) wrote in their let­ter.

In the past two years, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has approved two aid pack­ages with a com­bined value of $28 bil­lion for Amer­i­can farm­ers, which is meant to to com­pen­sate them for rev­enue lost in a sep­a­rate trade dis­pute with China.

See more: Table Olive News

We hear very often that the U.S. also grants aid to its farm­ers,” Anto­nio de Mora, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of Asemesa, one of the groups rep­re­sented by the Inter­a­ceituna, told Olive Oil Times. If it turns out that it is true that there are sub­si­dies that do not com­ply with the rules of the WTO, these must be placed on the nego­ti­at­ing table. In short, we must act with the same firm­ness as the United States.”

De Mora added that every effort must be made by both the E.U. and Span­ish gov­ern­ment to nego­ti­ate with the U.S. in order to mit­i­gate the dam­ag­ing impacts of the tar­iffs on table olive pro­duc­ers.

With a 25 per­cent tar­iff on four dif­fer­ent types of Span­ish green olive exports that took effect last week and a 27-per­cent tar­iff on black olive exports to the U.S. that has been in place since August 2018, many pro­duc­ers are feel­ing the finan­cial pres­sure.

Accord­ing to Inter­a­ceituna, almost all Span­ish table olive exports to the U.S. have been impacted by one of these two tar­iffs. The U.S. is the largest sin­gle mar­ket for Span­ish table olives, with more than one-fifth of the coun­try’s total exports des­tined for Amer­i­can ports.

So far, farm­ers have been unsuc­cess­ful in replac­ing lost rev­enue from the U.S. mar­ket with new export des­ti­na­tions, which makes resolv­ing the cur­rent trade con­flict para­mount in the eyes of de Mora.

The U.S. has imposed tar­iffs but has repeat­edly stated that it is open to find­ing a solu­tion,” de Mora said. There­fore, the E.U. must sit down imme­di­ately to talk with­out wait­ing for the WTO deci­sion on the Boe­ing issue.”

Accord­ing to Cecilia Malm­ström, the out­go­ing Euro­pean Trade Com­mis­sioner, the WTO will soon rule in favor of the E.U. on its own com­plaint into ille­gal Amer­i­can sub­si­dies for air­craft man­u­fac­turer, Boe­ing.

Malm­ström empha­sized that the E.U. wanted to avoid an esca­lat­ing trade war, but was pre­pared to hit var­i­ous U.S. agri­cul­tural prod­ucts with tar­iffs of its own upon receiv­ing the WTO rul­ing.

The E.U. has also filed a com­plaint with the WTO regard­ing the 27-per­cent tar­iff that was uni­lat­er­ally placed on Span­ish black olive exports as a result of an anti-sub­sidy inves­ti­ga­tion by the U.S. Inter­na­tional Trade Com­mis­sion.

Dia­logue is not incom­pat­i­ble with the adop­tion of pres­sure mea­sures as the U.S. nor­mally does,” de Mora said.

De Mora, along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the four other agri­cul­tural groups that make up Inter­a­ceituna, con­cluded their let­ter urg­ing the Span­ish gov­ern­ment to act with the same kind of res­o­lu­tion as the U.S. gov­ern­ment did in apply­ing the tar­iffs. In the let­ter, the offi­cials argued that a lot more is at stake than sim­ply lost rev­enue.

Much more is at stake than the total value of exports of table olives from Spain to the U.S. ($201 mil­lion),” Inter­a­ceituna wrote. The work and invest­ments of many years are at stake, [as is] the posi­tion gained in the mar­ket and the great expec­ta­tions of the future.”

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