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The special group of the World Trade Organization ruled this Friday that the tariffs that the United States unilaterally imposed in 2018 on olive imports from Spain are illegal and unjustified, a decision that the European Commission hopes Washington will accept but that the Americans could still appeal.

Small victory for the Spanish field in a matter that goes back three years, when the administration of former President Donald Trump decided to increase the rates applied to imports of raw black olives, from 21.60% to between 30% and 44%.

The United States opened an investigation and the Department of Commerce accused the Spanish industry of receiving illegal aid that made its products more competitive. This Friday, the WTO refuted their arguments.

After a failed negotiation attempt, the European Union answered the measure before the World Trade Organization, explaining that the Common Agricultural Policy does not allow specific aid to processors in any sector.

In addition, Brussels argued that the US Department of Commerce wrongly assumed that the subsidies to olive producers had been transferred directly. In its resolution, the expert group sides with the EU and it considers that Washington was not only unable to prove that such direct state aid actually existed, but also that the calculation of the tariffs would in any case be erroneous.

Devastating effect

The decision is “good news” for Spain, said the executive vice president of the European Commission in charge of Trade Policy, Valdis Dombrovskis, since Tariffs put in place to protect California growers had a devastating effect for the Spanish olive sector.

In fact, the exports according to the Commission, were reduced up to 60%. Before the imposition of the tariffs, the olive trade between the US and the EU was worth at least 26 million euros a year.

The Commission’s efforts for vigorously defending the interests and rights of EU producers, in this case the producers of ripe Spanish olives, are paying off“Dombrovskis insisted.

These tariffs seriously affected Spanish olive producers, who saw their exports to the US drop drastically as a result. We now hope that the United States will take the appropriate measures to implement the WTO resolution so that exports of ripe olives from Spain to the United States resume under normal conditions, “the executive vice president added in a press release after hearing the news. Joe Biden’s administration now has 60 days to appeal the decision.


Black olive exports to the US sink 60%, according to Agro-alimentary Cooperatives

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