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Concern about US focus on EU farm supports

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Vice-president of the European Parliament and MEP, Mairead McGuinness, has voiced concern over US tariffs on European food exports, following the imposition of a 17 per cent customs duty on Spanish olives in recent days. Ms McGuinness, who is a member of the Parliament's Agriculture Committee, voted in favour of a parliamentary resolution urging the Commission to investigate the issue and react appropriately.

Ms McGuinness said she was surprised that young farmers and voluntary coupled support is in the sight of the US administration.

"In addition to the widely talked about tariffs on steel and aluminium, President Trump also imposed a customs duty of 17 per cent on Spanish olives. The US justified this move by claiming certain key aspects of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), such as the Basic Payment Scheme and Aid for Young Farmers, are trade-distorting.

"My concern is that this challenge against one European product, Spanish olives, could have implications for all products covered by the CAP, particularly because the support measures in question fully qualify for the criteria of green box payments according to the World Trade Organisation (WTO)," McGuinness said.

This recent Resolution calls on the European Commission to clarify the situation with regard to WTO rules and antidumping margins. The Commission is also urged to study the possibility of challenging the US decisions before the WTO dispute settlement body and take all possible diplomatic action to defend the non-distorting nature of the European Union’s agricultural subsidies.

The US investigation focused on the three main Spanish manufacturers which accounted for 70 per cent of Spanish exports to the USA, and the antidumping and countervailing duties may affect all exports of ripe olives by Spain, which is the world’s main producer. The USA imposed provisional antidumping duties of an average of 17.13 per cent on the three Spanish companies under investigation, and countervailing duties of an average of 4.47 per cent on any Spanish exporter.

"Spanish manufacturers stand to lose the valuable US market that has provided them with a turnover of €70m per year, while competitors from third countries, such as Egypt, Tunisia or Turkey, would benefit from the export gap caused by the US decision. It is a severe blow to Spain which had seen an increase of 20 per cent in exports to the US since 2013, enabling the creation of thousands of jobs and provided economic relief to areas of Andalusia that were among the hardest hit by the economic crisis.

"Furthermore, the increase in Spanish exports has only had a very limited impact on the two American olives producers. With today's Resolution, we are highlighting the difficulties these measures taken by the US represent for the EU's Common Agricultural Policy," said Ms McGuinness.

Tags: US CAP Mairead McGuinness tariffs Trump