Spanish winemaker Baron de Ley SA has made the U.S. a priority for exports as it seeks out new markets to help cushion the blow of Brexit — only to face the threat of tariffs.
“This news has fallen on us like a dead weight — the U.S. is a young market for us but increasingly important,” said Eduardo Santos-Ruiz, chairman of the vineyard headquartered in a 16th century monastery in the wine-growing region of La Rioja. Baron de Ley relies on export markets for 50% of its revenue and last year appointed a new U.S. distributor to help boost sales.
Cheeses from France, Italy and the Netherlands, wines, Scotch whisky and Greek canned peaches are just some of the European exports whose prices are set to rise in the U.S. after the Trump administration announced new tariffs on billions of dollars of EU products starting Oct. 18.
The World Trade Organization gave President Donald Trump’s administration the go-ahead to impose tariffs on as much as $7.5 billion ($8.2 billion) of European exports annually in retaliation for illegal government aid to Airbus. The news hit European producers already struggling with other challenges, including the U.K.’s potential exit without a deal from the European Union.
Spain’s Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned the U.S. ambassador in Madrid Duke Buchan III to complain about the tariffs.
“It is possible that the U.S decision could spark EU retaliatory measures, but we think that neither the EU nor the U.S. should engage in a trade war that would weaken both sides,” Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio said in a letter to Italian companies. “What is at stake is the success of our companies, the benefits for all the countries of the world that want to buy from them and the economy of our country.”
Here are some European reactions to the news of potential U.S. tariffs:
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