EU Takes Columbia to WTO Over French Fry Tariffs
The European Union (EU) launched a case at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Columbia, after an outcry from Belgium, the self-proclaimed inventor of the French fry or chip, reports Yahoo News.
The EU’s top trade official said efforts to reason with Columbia had failed, with Bogota insisting on imposing tariffs on fry exports from Belgian, Dutch and German businesses.
According to EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who was cited by the report, the Columbian tariffs are “unfair” and “harm companies” in the three countries. Thus, she has given instructions to initiate as soon as possible a dispute in the framework of the WTO against Columbia.
Despite being widely dubbed “French”, fries are a prized product in Belgium and its fries culture was added to the UNESCO cultural treasures list last year.
Columbia, for in its part, accuses the Europeans of dumping cheap frozen potatoes – known locally as papas – on its market and undercutting struggling local producers.
Belgian firms deny this, and Foreign Minister Didier Reynders has pressured the EU to fight back. The country’s potato processing sector has sprouted to become the biggest in the world in recent years. It has jumped from 500,000 tons in 1990 to 5.1 million tons in 2018, according to Belgapom, the country’s potato producer association. More than 90% of the country’s production is destined for export and one-third of that goes outside Europe.