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The European Comission will back Spain's fight to defend its olive exporters, who were hit by Donald Trump's tariffs in June 2018. Madrid considers the punitive measure to be "an evident prejudice" on olive producers.
The EU is set to file a formal complaint against the US at the World Trade Organization (WTO) this week, citing "unjustified and unwarranted" import duties imposed on olives from Spain, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom announced on Monday.
"Tomorrow, we are taking this case to the WTO dispute settlement system, requesting consultations with the US," Malmstrom said on Twitter, adding that the European Commission was committed to vigorously defending the interests of EU producers.
The US Department of Commerce imposed punitive tariffs on Spanish olives in June of 2018, arguing they were being sold in the US at up to 25.5 per cent below value, while Madrid was subsidizing olive producers by up to 27 per cent.
Trade relations between the US and the EU have been tense since US President Donald Trump imposed duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum imports last year, leading Brussels to retaliate with counter tariffs on a range of US products.
Spain's minister for Agriculture, Fishing and Food, Luis Planas, was happy to have the Commission's backing on the dispute and said Madrid perceived "an evident prejudice against our exporters."
In terms of where Spanish olives stand among EU trade priorities, Planas said that his government believed that olive exporters were "exactly the same as those of the auto or steel industries and that they deserve all consideration and protections of the EU."
The US and EU will have to go through a process of bilateral consultations, the first stage of the WTO dispute resolution process.
If both sides are unable to resolve the dispute then, the matter is sent to a judicial panel of the WTO for a final decision.
jcg/rt (EFE, AFP, dpa)