Luis Planas, Minister of Agriculture and Environment

The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has approved new tariffs on Spanish olives by a vote of three to one.

The decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to impose unreasonably high and prohibitive anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on Spanish olives is simply unacceptable.- European Commission

Customs authorities will now begin collecting new tariffs approved by the U.S. Department of Commerce on the olives ranging from 7.52 percent all the way to 27.02 percent.

“The USITC today determined that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of ripe olives from Spain that the U.S. Department of Commerce has determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value,” a department spokeswoman said about the decision.

“As a result of the USITC’s affirmative determinations, Commerce will issue antidumping and countervailing duty orders on imports of this product from Spain,” she added.

The European Commission has said in a statement that it will wait to see the exact wording of the tariffs, which will be released on July 24, but that “all possible options” are on the table, in terms of a response.

“The Commission deplores this US approach and in particular the way in which the investigation was conducted,” a European Commission spokesperson said. “These protectionist measures are not justified, neither on process nor on substance.”

“The decision by the U.S. Department of Commerce to impose unreasonably high and prohibitive anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on Spanish olives is simply unacceptable,” the spokesperson added. “This is a protectionist measure targeting a high-quality and successful EU product popular with US consumers.”

The implementation of the tariffs stems from an anti-dumping complaint lodged by two companies in California last year. This was compounded by an anti-subsidy charge by the Commerce Department.

According to data from the Spanish Association of Exporters and Industrialists of Table Olives (ASEMA), black olive exports to the US have already fallen by more than 42 percent in the first quarter of 2018 compared with the same period in 2017.

Luis Planas, Spain’s Minister of Agriculture, said he plans to bring up the tariffs at a European Union agricultural meeting scheduled for next week in Luxembourg.

José Muñoz, a PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) Deputy in the Andalusian Parliament, has already taken action, proposing an initiative demanding European Union intervention on behalf of Spanish olive farmers.

“The PSOE in Andalusia presents in the Andalusian Parliament an initiative that demands of the European Union a forceful commercial answer against the tariffs on our table olives,” he said on Twitter.

The Andalusian Parliament is meeting today to discuss the initiative and the implications of the tariffs on the region’s economy. However, it is unclear what exactly the provincial government can do other than petition Brussels to act.

Meanwhile, Rodrigo Sánchez Haro, the Andalusian Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development has gone to Madrid to petition the national government to act.

“Today in Madrid we have met with the Luis Planas, to continue working together in defense of the table olive sector before the unfair and unjustified tariffs definitively established by the US,” he said.

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