Following a ruling from the WTO, the Trump administration is set to impose $7.5 billion worth of tariffs on a wide range of European products. The tariffs come as a result of a long-standing dispute between the US and the EU in which the latter was accused of unfairly aiding Airbus, a European aircraft manufacturer, by providing cheap loans.
The US’s retaliatory response to this has been to apply variable tariffs on products as far-ranging as British clothing and French Wine. European cheeses have also been caught up in the spat, with a tariff of 25% being applied to their export to the States – a move that has alarmed not only European producers but also American retailers and consumers.
One cheese in particular has been causing quite the stir on both sides of the pond. Italy’s famed Parmigiano Reggiano hit the headlines recently as Italian journalist Alice Martinelli interrupted a photo opportunity in Rome to hand a hunk of the cheese to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, right in front of the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.
Whilst Pompeo laughed at the encounter, Conte was visibly embarrassed as the journalist was heard to say ‘I have a present for you – an Italian present. The Prime Minister knows what I’m talking about. This is Parmigiano-Reggiano, and this is what we make best in Italy.’
Many other Italians have also voiced their opposition to the US’s punitive tariffs on their food exports. Producers have threatened to protest outside of American military bases in Italy, and the country’s minister of agriculture has taken to President Trump’s preferred mode of communication, Twitter, to ask him if he had ever tried Parmigiano with grapes.
The widespread criticism of the US’s imposition of tariffs is understandable given their expected impact; industry leaders predict exports of Italian cheese of all varieties to decrease by as much as 80%. Given that the US is Italy’s third largest trading partner, behind France and Germany, this is causing significant concern.
Whilst American retailers are stockpiling Italian cheese in order to mitigate the price increases for their customers, European retailers may be able to benefit from the US countermeasures. With Italian producers eager to secure a steady cash-flow following the American tariffs, European buyers may see a moderate decrease in the price of Italian cheeses – an unexpected benefit, perhaps.
As Donald Trump is no doubt satisfied with processed burger cheese, Europeans can be confident that the ensuing US-EU trade dispute will have little impact on their ability to enjoy the best quality cheeses in the world, many of which come from Italy.
For more info on Italian food products, don’t hesitate to get in contact with The Italian Food Experts.