California olive industry applauds regulations on Spanish olives

The California table olive industry recognized the US government’s January 12, 2023 decision to implement the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on imports of Spanish olives in a manner that, it says it upholds US law and safeguards a fair national marketplace.

“The US government has confirmed time and time again in the last five years that the Spanish olive industry still benefits from extraordinary subsidies from the European Union (EU) and is still dumping its ripe olives on the US market.” said Michael Silveira, president of the California Olive Growers Council.

“If it weren’t for the US government’s antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders on Spanish olives, US table olive production and hundreds of family farmer and allied US jobs would be in grave jeopardy “, said.

For years, the EU has tried to shield its farm subsidy payments from external scrutiny despite a subsidy allocation system that grants unfair and disproportionately large financial benefits to the Spanish olive industry.

In 2018, after the US issued its AD and CVD olive orders, the EU tried to block further review and overturn those orders by challenging them in the WTO. In November 2021, the WTO issued its ruling, whose legal conclusions paved the way for the US government to continue applying AD and CVD tariffs to Spanish olives.

The WTO did not challenge the US government’s damages and anti-dumping findings and concluded that subsidy payments to EU growers were subject to US countervailing duty disciplines.

While challenging certain aspects of the US government’s CVD determinations and declaring an important US trade law known as “Section 771B” to be WTO-inconsistent, the new US decision implementing the WTO ruling fully addresses and resolves all WTO concerns.

Its decision makes it clear, for example, that while only Congress can change US law, Section 771B allows sufficient administrative discretion to overcome the panel’s concerns about WTO-inconsistency.

Silveira said: “The EU wants the Biden Administration to ignore the law and allow Spanish industry to go back to selling at dumped and subsidized prices without consequences.” He added: “That would only reinforce the EU’s protectionist agricultural policies and, by eroding trade enforcement, would undermine US-grown production and US food security.”

The US government’s AD and CVD orders on Spanish olives have given California olive growers the time they need to reinvest in modern farming techniques, including a “Million Trees.” initiative”, to help transition the industry to a modern, drought-friendly acreage.

Dennis Burreson, California olive grower and vice president of field operations and industry affairs for Musco Family Olive Co., praised the administration and the industry congressional delegation for standing up for the California olive industry, saying : “The olive case, along with our 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.”