Roquefort Sales Surge as Threat of Tariff Hike Looms

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Once again, the United States has delayed imposing a tariff hike on imported goods from the European Union (EU). The latest delay, which will suspend trade action until May 9, is due to ongoing negotiations regarding a trade dispute involving an EU ban on US hormone-treated beef that has been going on since 1988. This is the third time the trade sanctions have been held back. The previous US Trade Representative, Susan Schwab, announced the tariffs on January 13. Originally, the tariffs were to have taken effect on March 23, but were then bumped up to April 23 by current Trade Representative Ron Kirk. On Wednesday, April 22, an announcement was made that the tariff implementation was to be delayed again to May 9.

Among the EU products that will be affected is the French-produced Roquefort cheese; which will experience a 300% tariff hike. Although, according to the US Department of Agriculture, the US market for Roquefort totaled only around $2.7 million last year, the logic is that the tariffs will generate attention in many EU governments without substantially harming US businesses. Currently, a pound of the crumbly blue cheese costs around $20. With the proposed tariffs, this would jump to an unheard-of $60 a pound. Although the example set with the Roquefort will be the most drastic, other affected imported goods include selected processed meats from Italy, such as beef sausage and bone-in hams, as well as jams from France, truffles, canned peaches, filled chocolates and even bottled water; each with an imposed 100 percent tariff hike. In the meantime, the threat of the Roquefort tariff immediately created an upsurge of sales across the United States.
-Ednar Segura


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