Business

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.”

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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.

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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.”

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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.”