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Parmigiano Reggiano
Cheese isn’t the only Italian product affected by the tariffs. Pork, yogurt, butter, and some fruits are also getting taxed.

Italian Imports Face 25 Percent Tariff

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Cheese just got a little pricier.
By Rachel Taylor October 2019 Finance

Restaurants who import Italian cheese will now have to deal with higher prices. The Trump Administration added a 25 percent tariff to various European imports, including popular Italian cheeses like Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, and Pecorino Romano, which will take effect on October 18.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office released a list of all European products that will be affected by the new tariffs on October 2. Parmesan Reggiano, Romano and provolone cheese were all included on the list.

And cheese isn’t the only Italian product affected by the tariffs. Pork, yogurt, butter, and some fruits are also included in the list. However, operators don’t have to worry about Italian wine, pasta, or olive oil, which were excluded from the list. 

Joseph Profaci, executive director of the North American Olive Oil Association, told Reuters many imports initially threatened by the administration didn’t make it onto the final list.  

“We’re still digesting what it will mean for the industry, but the total universe of oil affected has been greatly reduced,” he told Reuters.

In August specialty food importers spoke with representatives from the Trade Representative’s office along with other key members of the administration about the implications tariffs would have on their products. Their testimony revealed the trouble tariffs could cause in both the U.S. and overseas, while addressing the fact that some products simply can’t be replaced by domestic products. 

“Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, and Pecorino Romano. These are products that has  geographical indications and has certification marks in the U.S. because that's the legal tool available to protect geographically distinct products,” Massimo Vittori, a representative of Organization for International Geographical Indications Network, told the committee. “The same taste, the same characteristics cannot be reproduced … you cannot reproduce the exact quality of those products.”

Ron Tanner of the Specialty Food Association relayed the testimony of Emilio Vinucci of Di Bruno Brothers to the committee.

“As a very proud third generation family business owner, whose grandparents immigrated from Italy, these additional ad valorem tariffs on European cheeses, pork products, olives, and other processed foods are extremely damaging to our daily business,” Vinucci said. 

While the actual list of products being hit with the tariff isn’t as expansive as the administration originally wanted, it will still impact Italian restaurant operators across the country. 

The tariffs come in retaliation against the European Union’s illegal aid it “gave to Airbus in its competition with its American rival Boeing,” CBS News reported. The dispute, which has been in litigation for 15 years, was settled on October 2. The World Trade Organization awarded the U.S. $7.5 billion after determining Boeing’s lost sales from Airbus impeding “exports of Boeing large aircraft to the EU, Australia, China, Korea, Singapore, and UAE markets,” the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office said in a statement.

Aircraft imports from the EU will now face a 10 percent tariff. 

"There is never a good time for the U.S. and the European Union to try to settle major trade disputes, particularly two as big as the Airbus/Boeing disputes. But this is the worst of times," Kate Bronfenbrenner, senior lecturer at Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations, told CBS News. 

Bronfenbrenner added, "The tariffs and counter tariffs will not only threaten hundreds of thousands of good union jobs in the airline industry but also jobs in the general manufacturing and agricultural sectors."