Farmers fear a ‘Russia-style’ scenario in EU-US trade spat

Pekka Pesonen: "It's the last thing that we want." [European Council President/Flickr]

European farmers are worried that the EU-US trade dispute will escalate, leading Washington to target agricultural products, farmers organisation Copa-Cogeca told

US President Donald Trump announced on 9 March tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminium, triggering a tit-for-tat reaction from the EU, which promised a “firm but proportional response”.

“The products mentioned by the EU include kidney beans, rice, maize, cranberries, orange juice, sweetcorn, peanut butter, cigars and cigarette, worth nearly €3 billion,” Copa-Cogeca said.

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“The last thing we need”

EU farmers have repeatedly complained about the high price agriculture is paying for politics, as was the case with the Russian embargo, which put enormous pressure on already struggling EU agricultural markets.

Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen warned that the dispute could hit the EU and US agriculture sectors hard, adding this is “the last thing we need”.

“The US is a major client for EU agri-food products. We have a stable trade relationship with them on agriculture, which we do not want to jeopardise. We call for moderation in the talks between the two sides to ensure that farmers do not end up paying the price of politics.”

“This comes on top of the decision by the US Department of Trade to impose taxes on Spanish olive imports, which clearly amounts to protectionism,” Pesonen added.

New tariffs on Spanish olives indicate US protectionist trend

The US trade department decided on Tuesday (21 November) to impose tariffs on imports of Spanish table olives, in another sign of rising protectionist measures under Donald Trump, which have drawn criticism from Europe.

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