California olive industry celebrates U.S. decision
The California table olive industry commended the U.S. government’s Jan. 12 decision to implement the World Trade Organization ruling on Spanish olives in a way that upholds U.S. law and safeguards a fair U.S. marketplace, while also complying with WTO rules.
“The U.S. government has confirmed again and again over the last five years that the Spanish olive industry is still benefiting from extraordinary European Union subsidies and is still dumping its ripe olives in the U.S. market,” said Michael Silveira, chairman of the Olive Growers Council of California. “If it weren’t for the U.S. government’s ongoing antidumping and countervailing duty orders on Spanish olives, American table olive production and hundreds of family farmers and allied American jobs would be in serious jeopardy.”
In 2018, after the U.S. issued its olive antidumping and countervailing duty orders, the European Union tried to block further review and overturn those orders by challenging them in the WTO. In November 2021, the WTO issued its ruling, the legal findings of which laid a path for the U.S. government to continue applying antidumping and countervailing duty tariffs on Spanish olives.
The WTO took no issue with the U.S. government’s antidumping and injury findings and found that European Union grower subsidy payments were subject to U.S. countervailing duty disciplines. While it questioned certain aspects of the U.S. government’s countervailing duty determinations, and declared an important U.S. trade law known as “Section 771B” to be WTO-inconsistent, the United States’ new decision implementing the WTO ruling fully addresses and resolves all WTO concerns. Its decision makes clear, for example, that while only Congress can change U.S. law, Section 771B authorizes administrative discretion sufficient to overcome the panel’s concerns about WTO-inconsistency.
“The E.U. wants the Biden administration to ignore the law and allow the Spanish industry to go back to selling at dumped and subsidized prices with no consequences,” said Silveira. “That would only reinforce the E.U.’s protectionist farm policies and, by eroding trade enforcement, would undermine American-grown production and U.S. food security.”
The U.S. government’s antidumping and countervailing duty orders on Spanish olives have given California olive farmers the time they need to reinvest in modern farming techniques, including a “One Million Tree initiative,” to help transition the industry to modern, drought-friendly acreage. Dennis Burreson, a California olive grower and vice president of field operations and industry affairs for Musco Family Olive Co., praised the administration and industry’s Congressional delegation for defending the California olive industry: “The olive case, together with our industry-led investments, is a great example of how to break the cycle of unfair foreign trade practices and rebuild high-quality, environmentally friendly American production and American jobs.”