Brussels (AFP) – The European Union on Wednesday furiously criticised a decision by the United States to impose higher duties on Spanish olives imports, as a bitter transatlantic trade feud worsened.
Brussels was responding angrily to the latest trade salvo from the Trump administration that followed Washington’s shock decision earlier this month to impose punishing tariffs on metals imports from Europe and other close allies.
The US Department of Commerce on Tuesday announced the extra tariffs on Spain’s iconic agricultural export, considering that these were indeed subsidised and sold at prices below their real value.
This decision “is simply unacceptable,” said European Commission spokesman Daniel Rosario at a news briefing in Brussels.
“This is a protectionist measure targeting a high quality and succesful EU product popular with US consumers,” Rosario said.
“Neither the substance of the decision nor the process that led to it are justified,” he said, adding that the US decision still needed a confirmation.
The tough words came days after a weekend G7 summit ended in acrimony when US President Donald Trump snubbed a joint statement, largely over differences on trade with Europe, Japan and Canada.
In a statement on Tuesday, the US estimated that olives from Spain are sold for 16.88 percent to 25.5 percent less than their real value.
Washington also claimed that Spain subsidised olive growers by 7.52 percent to 27.02 percent.
In 2017, Spain’s olive exports to the United States amounted to $67.6 million.
The final decision will rest with the US International Trade Commission (ITC), expected on July 24.