The Effect of Trump’s Tariffs on Greece

(EUROKINISSI/ Stelios Misinas

President Donald Trump’s tariffs on China and other countries in Asia have received much press over the past few months. But these countries are not the only ones that will be affected. Soon, some of our most beloved Greek items are going to get significantly more expensive.

It goes without saying that the enormous economies of countries such as China have the ability to affect world markets – thus monopolizing most of the media coverage with regard to tariffs. But what about the smaller European economies (i.e., Greece) that will suffer because of the President’s proposed tariffs?

The United States government approved new tariffs on dozens of imported products from Europe in response to the accusation that the European Union has been (illegally) subsidizing the aircraft manufacturer Airbus – thereby damaging U.S.-based companies like Boeing. The World Trade Organization agreed with this reasoning and decided to allow President Trump to impose additional tariffs on European exports – worth about €7 billion – which directly damage Greek exports to the United States.

The new tariffs are set to take effect on October 18, 2019, and will affect a wide range of Greek products – including, but not limited to: dairy, seafood and agricultural products.

More specifically, the Greek products affected (a total of 92) will include: yogurt (yes, THE inimitable Greek yogurt), cheese (yes, that includes feta), butter, oranges, lemons, cherries, pears, compotes, fruit and vegetable juices, desserts, and mussels.

These Greek products will be hit with a 25% additional tariff.

Surprisingly, Greek producers of canned peaches will also suffer from the tariffs, dealing a blow to growers who had been counting on boosting shipments to the United States because of its (original) trade dispute with China. Although China remains the largest U.S. source of canned fruit, canned peaches from Greece make up between 15-20% of total U.S. canned peach imports. With the U.S. imports of canned fruit from Greece now subject to a 25% tariff – just like China – Greece may have lost its incentive to expand shipments to the U.S. market.

Thankfully, unlike Spanish olive oils, as well as table olives from France and Spain, Greek olive oil and Greek olives (and their sister products from Italy) will not be facing tariffs and thus will not be subject to additional U.S. duties.

At a time when Greece’s economy was finally starting to show some progress – especially for smaller-scale Greek producers – these tariffs may be paralyzing. Not only that, but what will happen to our local businesses that sell these imported products? How will Greek product shops throughout the United States survive when their profits are already slim and there’s not much they can do to change up their products without increasing their prices by (at least) 25%?

And as for the Greek-American consumer, where is s/he going to find a decent American substitute for his/her beloved feta?