Italian producers could lose half of exports if US tariffs on EU olive oil imports imposed

Italian olive oil producers could lose up to US$200M/year if US tariffs on EU olive oil imports are approved, the Italian Association of the Olive Oil Industry (Assitol) warns.

Assitol president Anna Cane said that Italian exports to the USA could fall by as much as 50% if the World Trade Organization (WTO) approved the proposed tariffs, Olive Oil Times reported on 17 July.

Italy was one of the largest suppliers of olive oil to the USA, exporting 94,000 tonnes to the country in 2018. This represented 31% of the USA’s total olive oil imports and more than 50% of Italy’s olive oil exports, according to Assitol.

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) office had kept olive oil on an updated list of punitive tariffs it planned to impose on the EU in relation to a dispute over the trading bloc’s subsidies for European aerospace corporation Airbus, Olive Oil Times wrote.

The WTO was due to make a decision later this summer on whether to approve some of or all of the proposed tariffs.

Cane said that if a 100% tax on EU olive oil was imposed, the price of extra virgin olive oil would double for US consumers, inducing buyers to look elsewhere for olive oil or identify alternative oils.

The USA imported more than 95% of the olive oil it consumed in the 2018/19, 65% of which came from the EU, Olive Oil Times said.