Olive oil, butter and essential oils are among a list of EU goods that the USA has threatened to impose US$11bn worth of tariffs on in a long-running dispute over the EU’s subsidy of European aerospace corporation Airbus.
“The World Trade Organization (WTO) has found repeatedly that EU subsidies to Airbus have caused adverse effects to the USA,” the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said in a statement on 8 April.
“This case has been in litigation for 14 years and the time has come for action,” added US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
The USTR’s 14-page list of EU goods that could attract tariffs, include several symbolic targets such as “French cheese”, wine, champagne, olive oil and seafood such as oysters, the Guardian newspaper wrote.
The dispute dates back to 2004, when the USA brought a challenge to the WTO over EU subsidies of Airbus. Both sides have since argued their case at the WTO, which is expected to rule on the size of any countermeasures in a few months.
According to Reuters, EU officials had also started to prepare retaliatory measures in relation to US subsidies to American aerospace company Boeing.
Olive Oil Times wrote on 10 April that EU olive oil producers could be among the hardest hit if the US tariffs were imposed, which could range from US$0.034-$0.176/kg on olive oil.
The EU exported 194,570 tonnes of olive oil with an estimated value of US$1bn to the USA during the 2018/19 harvest season.
According to Eurostat, 35% of EU olive oil exports with an estimated value of US$339M went to the USA in the first fiscal quarter of 2019. Spain exported 35,323 tonnes, Italy exported 30,898 tonnes, while Portugal and Greece exported 1,410 tonnes and 3,506 tonnes, respectively.
Ettore Prandini, the president of Italian agricultural association Coldiretti, said Italian producers would most likely be hit hardest. Nearly half of all Italian olive oil was exported to the USA in the first fiscal quarter of 2019, Olive Oil Times wrote. Last year, Italy exported US$436M worth of olive oil stateside.
Portugal and other EU producers would have less to fear since most of their olive oil was exported to other parts of the world like Brazil and the Middle East, Olive Oil Times wrote.