Import sanctions by the U.S. on European products that include cheeses, yogurt, wines, olives, oranges and lemons are scheduled to take effect on Friday.
They will force American importers to pay up to 25 percent more for the targeted items, and producers who export significant quantities to the U.S. say this will severely harm sales and impact profitability.
The tariffs were announced by the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, after a decision from WTO arbitrators earlier this month. It authorized the implementation of trade countermeasures against the EU in response to decades of subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus that had previously been deemed illegal and anti-competitive under WTO rules.
Greece’s agricultural ministry has spent months lobbying U.S. officials to exempt Greek products from the expected tariffs.
Speaking to CNBC, Agriculture Minister, Makis Voridis, said and was happy that his country’s olives and olive oils did not appear on the final U.S. government list.
He and others in the Greek government have argued that Athens has never been a part of the multinational consortium behind Airbus, and should therefore not suffer from retaliatory measures.
“Indeed they have decided not to impose taxes on olive oil and olives, which is absolutely a good thing,” he told CNBC. But he pointed out that Greek farmers would still likely suffer millions of euros in lost sales.
“At the end of the day, even if olive oil as an oil is exempted, peaches are not, and some Greek cheeses are not. So in that sense, in trying to deal with the issue, in the EU we all have a common interest.”