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30,000 olive producers march in Madrid against U.S. tariffs

Christian Fernsby |
Some 30,000 Spanish olive farmers and workers took to the streets of Madrid to protest against a U.S. plan to impose import tariffs on European and Spanish agricultural produce, including olive oil, Spanish state TV network RTVE reported.

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The U.S. government had announced import duties on a long list of European products last week, responding to a World Trade Organization (WTO) decision allowing the U.S. to impose 7.5 billion U.S. dollars in taxes on European products to compensate for the loss American aircraft company Boeing has suffered through illegal EU subsidies to competitor Airbus.

The list includes charges of 25 percent on, among other things, whiskeys, French wine, olives, butter, yogurt and cheese from across the EU, and a 10-percent duty on European aircraft.

Spanish olive producers marched under the banner "Precios justos para un olivar vivo" (fair prices for a living olive trees) and demanded measures to guarantee a "dignified" future.

Around 250,000 Spanish families rely on olive for their livelihood, local media reported.

President of the Spanish Association of Young Farmers (ASAJA), Pedro Barato, said that the olive oil production sector was "passing through a tremendous crisis".

Rafael Sanchez Puerta, president of the Olive Oil Patrimony Foundation, signaled that the U.S. tariffs, which are due to be imposed from Oct. 18 would be "lethal" for the sector which sells over 200 million kilos to the U.S. every year.

"We have to stop it in any way we can," Sanchez said.

Also on Thursday, Carmen Crespo, an official from the Autonomous Community of Andalusia in southern Spain, presented a report and said that the proposed U.S. tariffs will have an impact of around 315 million euros (347 million U.S. dollars) to the Andalusian agrifoods sector.

She said that the Andalusian regional government "considers there is still room for negotiations" and asked the acting Spanish government under Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to petition to the European Union to resolve the issue by negotiating with the U.S. administration.

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