The additional tariffs, which kicked in on Friday, were added to a long list of EU goods by American President Donald Trump as a bitter US-EU dispute over aircraft subsidies rolls on.
The measures are expected to cause a 20 percent drop in sales of agro-food products to the US, Italian agricultural association Coldiretti said.
Cheesemakers accused the American government of slapping tariffs on many European DOP (protected designation of origin) products “out of spite” as EU protections mean the US can't sell its cheeses in Europe.
Protestors took to social media under the hashtag #iostocolparmigiano (“I'm with Parmigiano”) in support of the makers of the much-loved cheese, which is produced in the Emilia-Romagna region.
#Agroalimentare. Dazi, #iostocolparmigiano: Regione Emilia-Romagna in Europa per DIFENDERE i suoi PRODOTTI di QUALITA'. L'assessore @caselli_s “Un IMPEGNO di tutta la GIUNTA che portiamo avanti insieme a imprenditori agricoli e lavoratori” https://t.co/CorPdkw15s pic.twitter.com/3tR0y3vZlR
— RegioneEmiliaRomagna (@RegioneER) October 14, 2019
“The king of cheeses has nothing to do with the Airbus-Boeing dispute and is paying an unfair cost over an issue that does not concern the Italian food industry at all,” read a statement from the consortium of Parmigiano Reggiano makers on Friday.
— Cosetta Cuccolini (@CCuccolini) October 17, 2019
“We are bitter because they are unjustly hitting one of the strongest sectors of our economy,” stated Nicola Bertinelli, president of the Parmigiano Reggiano Consortium. “Italy is paying a truly senseless bill.”
He claimed that the US slapped tariffs on European DOP products out of “nothing more than spite, because Europe protects registered products.”
“We will never allow Americans to sell US-made Parmesan in Europe,” he continued. “Otherwise, not only Italian companies will suffer damage, but foreign consumers will be duped into buying fakes in the belief they're buying the real Parmigiano Reggiano “
He said Parmigiano Reggiano makers were asking for help from the Italian government and the EU “to reallocate the products that will not be sold in the USA, and with the legal costs that we continue to pay to defend the DOP from attacks by multinationals that want to get their hands on the business of geographical indication products.”
Cheeses from across Europe, including stilton, cheddar, and all blue-veined cheese but Roquefort – which is specifically exempted – are hit by the tax, as well as many other foods, wines and other products.