EU FARM unions Copa and Cogeca have described the USA's decision to impose punitive import duties on Spanish table olives as 'protectionism'.

Copa and Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen said “The US Department of Trade has decided to impose taxes on Spanish olives, following a second investigation by the US. They want to impose additional taxes of 17.13% on top of the 4.47% decided last November and the current tax of 5.5%, causing Spanish olives to face total taxes of 27% to enter the US market.

"We are disappointed with the decision. It is unjustified and disproportionate and it goes against our common interest to develop good trading relations with the US.

“The main reason why Spanish imports of black table olives are so competitive is because producers have made great efforts to cut their production costs and have also invested a lot in cutting edge technology," added Mr Pesonen. "They should not be penalized for this."