The European Union Friday launched a World Trade Organization dispute against Colombia over tariffs on European fries, according to a Commission announcement.
Colombia last year imposed anti-dumping duties ranging from 3 percent to 8 percent on frozen fries from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, arguing the EU was exporting its potato chips below the real cost of production.
While this case focuses on potato chips solely, it represents a much wider risk to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
Colombia argues that the CAP’s farm subsidies lead to overproduction, which EU farmers dump on foreign markets.
In a similar case last year, the U.S. imposed anti-dumping and anti-subsidy tariffs on Spanish olives, arguing that CAP payments allow EU producers to export below cost.
EU trade officials are increasingly nervous that those attacks on its farm subsidy system could encourage more countries to impose anti-dumping tariffs, leading to a chain reaction.
One EU official warned that the U.S. reasoning on olives could also be applied to other EU food exports, saying a new anti-dumping investigation would require “a simple copy-paste.”
Former EU trade chief Jean-Luc Demarty warned last year that the EU stood to lose if its CAP subsidies were challenged at the WTO.
“I think we would not like the WTO looking at … our subsidies and to rule if our green box are really green,” he said.
Demarty warned that sectoral farm subsidies were particularly risky. “I would like to alert that this type of support … could be easy targets for anti-subsidy [tariffs].”
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