Black Spanish Olives, And By Extension The European Agriculture Sector, In Trump’s Hands

Black Spanish olives could lose practically the entire US marketBlack Spanish olives could lose practically the entire US market

Within the framework of the comercial dispute that the US has opened with the EU, the Trump administration has launched a special crusade against the producers of black olives in Spain.  According to US authorities, Spain´s black olives have been exported to the US at “dumping prices” and receive EU and Spanish subsidies “which confer unfair advantages over American competitors”. Specifically, in their investigation via the International Trade Commission (ITC),  the US Government concluded that Spanish producers sell olives at a price between 16.88 and 25.50% below market value, which is claimed to have damaged the Californian olive sector.

The investigations began in July last year and formally finished last week. The definitive resolution means the confirmation of the tariffs imposed by the US Commerce Department on 11 June of 34.75%, of which 20% responds to anti-dumping procedures and the remaining 14.75% to the subsidies.

The tariffs are imposed for a renewable period of five years and mean the loss of practically the entire US market for Spanish black olives, as well as creating a precedent for all agricultural products originating in the EU because they call into question the subvention model of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

The Spanish Government and the EU do not rule out taking the increase in tariffs on Spanish black olives to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). They allege that at the momento “there is not sufficient evidence” to justify such steps. Moreover, Brussels is aware that the case of Spanish black olives implies a risk for the entire Mediterranean agricultural sector: today it is olives, but tomorrow it couls be any other EU product.

The imposition of tariffs on black olives puts at risk more than two million days wages and 8,000 direct employees in one of the most strategic sectors of the Andalusian economy.

Black olives are one of America’s favorite pizza toppings. The sales of Spanish olives in the US are valued and some 70 million dollars each year. Nevertheless, according the US Customs Department, the export of Spanish black olives to the US has declined in the first quarter of the year 42.9% compared the the same period last year, passing from 6.9 million kilos to 4 million kilos.