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US goes after Spanish olive imports

© AFP/File | Commerce authorities in Washington have launched an investigation into the subsidization practices for Spanish olive imports, after claims that Spanish olives are subsidized improperly, hurting American companies

WASHINGTON (AFP) - 

In Washington's latest move against what it considers unfair trade, authorities launched an investigation Thursday into whether Spanish olive imports are improperly subsidized, hurting American companies.

Having already gone after Canadian lumber and dairy, Mexican sugar and a host of other products, the Trump administration now is taking aim at the Mediterranean specialty, after two US olive companies filed a complaint claiming Spanish olives are sold at as much as 200 percent below market value.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said if the rules are being broken the administration "will act swiftly to halt any unfair trade practices."

If the ripe olives are found to receive "unfair government subsidies" or are being dumped at below market value, the Commerce Department could impose punitive import duties.

The International Trade Commission will make a preliminary determination by August 7 on whether US companies and workers are being harmed. That will be followed by a Commerce Department preliminary finding on duties in September after which the government would start collecting the import penalties.

In 2016, imports of ripe olives from Spain were valued at an estimated $70.9 million.

The case covers "all colors... and all shapes and sizes" of ripe packaged olives.

Martini drinkers can take heart, however: specialty olives are excluded from the investigation, including "Spanish-style green olives" including ones described by the government as being stuffed with pimento, jalapeno, garlic or cheese.

© 2017 AFP