New US tariff could have €26m impact on Catalan food and drink exports
Government to meet next week to study 25% levy on American sales of products such as cheese, olive oil and wine
The United States' intention to impose a new tariff on a wide range of popular food, drinks, and other products from the European Union could cost Catalonia 26 million euros a year, according to the Catalan Agrifood Exports Promotion Agency, PRODECA.
Last year, the Catalan food and drink sector made sales in the US worth 330 million euros, and the new tariff on products such as oil, wine, cava, cheese, and fruit would reduce that revenue by the equivalent of 7.8%.
The US is the third-largest importer of Catalan food and drink products outside the EU, after China and Japan, accounting for 3.3% of all food and drink exports from Catalonia, making it the country's eighth-largest market in the world for such products.
The new 25% tariff will come into effect on October 18 and will primarily affect Catalan fine food exports, which include cheese, yoghurts, butter, nuts, fruit juice and processed fruit products. In 2018, these products accounted for sales worth 125 million euros.
Vegetable and olive oil, which accounted for sales of 56 million euros last year, will also be affected, as will wine exports, which amounted to 85 million euros. The levy will apply to non-sparkling wines under 14% alcohol volume in packaging under two liters.
The tariff will also affect the meat sector, which accounted for 31 million euros in exports last year, along with exports of mollusks and seafood. The fruit sector will be the least affected because Catalonia exports very few fruit products to the US.
Government calls meeting of agricultural board
The government responded to the announcement by calling a meeting of its agricultural board next week to discuss the levies, while Catalonia's federation of agricultural cooperatives, FCAC, said the tariffs will endanger products like olive oil and packaged wine.
In a statement on Thursday, the FCAC regretted that the agricultural sector "has again become a bargaining chip" in an international conflict, and warned that the tariff would cause a "distortion" in the EU, as it applies to some member states and not others.
Joan Canadell, the president of the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, played down the situation, explaining that there are "not yet enough indicators" to suggest that there is a crisis.
"If we report this news, society could be alarmed and [the economy could] slow down," Canadell explained.