NEWS » Trump declares war - on the Vespa?

Trump declares war - on the Vespa?

"Trump declares war on the Vespa", said a headline in the national Italian daily “Il Messaggero”.  The vespa, a symbol of the “made in Italy” since the year of the film “La dolce Vita”, might become one of the first European brands to be affected by Donald Trump's protectionism.

The European products are vulnerable to potential defensive measures because of a transatlantic dispute over Europe's ban on beef produced with the aid of hormones that pre-dates Trump coming to power.

Trump would impose the duties after protests from US beef exporters, unhappy that the EU market has not been sufficiently opened up to them under a 2009 agreement. Piaggio, which makes Vespas, fell 1.5% on the Milan stock exchange after the news broke out.

Along with mopeds, the symbolic Italian products that could have punitive duties imposed on them reportedly include: tomatoes in every form, salami and Parma ham. In addition, also the San Pellegrino mineral water, owned by Nestlé is part of the list of possible targets. Then there are Perrier (also controlled by Nestlé), Roquefort with other French cheeses, foie gras, other light European manufacturing motorbikes such as the Swedish Husqvarna and the Austrian Ktm. All these products might be affected by the imposition of 100 percent duties on their declared value which would immediately double their price.

Italy's exports to the United States in 2016 were worth €37 billion, just over ten percent of the European Union (including Britain) total of €362 billion.

Although reports of the blacklist hit shares in Vespa manufacturer Piaggio, the company stressed that US sales represented less than five percent of its total turnover, and that it could export from its factories in Vietnam if the duties are imposed.

However, fears arose for the possible loss of jobs at the company's Italian production centres. Any ban on food products could be very damaging to producers of upmarket niche products like San Daniele hams.

The US are the third exportation market for Italian products, the first outside the EU after Germany and France. The return to trade tax would cost over 345 million euros on the most "traditional" consumer goods: fashion, footwear, design and food. 216 million euros of the total trade tax will be on mechanics and means of transport (from instrumental to automotive components), 62 million on products and building materials; 43 million, on metallurgy and 32 million on chemistry-pharmaceutical products. 

Giulia Lombardo

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