LUXEMBOURG – The Spanish government presented on Monday to the European Commission its defense against an inquiry initiated by the United States into the export of Spain’s black olives, insisting the probe was bad for trade and not based on facts.
The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and the Environment, Isabel Garcia Tejerina, said the US Commerce Department was investigating whether Spain was dumping its olives, particularly the flavorful black variety used in salads and pizzas across the US.
“We understand that this inquiry initiated by the United States has no foundation in fact,” the minister said during a commission meeting in Luxembourg in which member countries discussed the case of black olives as a matter of particular concern.
Among the issues considered was the impact a US policy change on black olives might have on the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).
The US inquiry was triggered by a complaint of two Californian companies that claim dumping and subsidies had applied to black olives imported from Spain.
“We are not only defending the interest of our producers, which is a priority, but the essence of the CAP,” Garcia Tejerina said.
“The EU has long ago reformed its CAP to give farmers guarantees of an income without distorting international trade,” she said.
The minister acknowledged that the case was a complex one, but she was confident Spain’s cause would prosper.
Spain exports 65 percent of its table olive production, with the US being the recipient of 22 percent of total exports.
On average over the past four harvests, sales to the US stood at 76,378 tons, worth 171 million euros ($200.6 million), according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Food and the Environment.