Today, Under- Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ivan Scalfarotto, concluded
his visit to the United States of America. During his mission in Washington, the Undersecretary had many meetings with members of the Administration, including Assistant Secretary of the Department of Commerce for Enforcement and Compliance Jeffrey Kessler, Assistant Secretary at the State Department for Economic Affairs Peter Haas, Deputy Director of the White House National Economic Council Thomas Storch and Deputy USTR Jeffrey Gerrish. In Congress, the Undersecretary met with Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, President pro- temper of the US Senate and Chairman of the Finance Committee, and Congressmen Mark Amodei, Republican Co-Chairman of the Italian American Congressional Delegation and Member of the Appropriations Committee, and David Cicilline, member of the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees and of the Democratic Leadership.
His visit comes just days after the US Administration announced on Jan 24 that new duties will be imposed on derivative aluminum and steel articles and ahead of the revision of duties enacted last October following the World Trade Organization ruling on the Airbus case. In anticipation of a decision which, according to the WTO ruling on Airbus is totally at the discretion of the American administration, Under-Secretary Scalfarotto expressed the strong expectation that Italy will not be hit disproportionately by a new round of duties, running the risk of harming businesses and consumers not only in Italy and in Europe, but in the United States, as they touch on sensitive sectors such as agri-food and wine.
The Under-Secretary also stressed the risk that a new wave of duties against Italy – which is not part of the Airbus consortium by choice – could also harm the image of the United States among the Italian public opinion. A risk that must be averted in light of the excellent state of bilateral relations between Italy and the United States, confirmed during the visit of US Vice President Pence to Italy on January 24.
He has also assured Italy’s commitment within the EU to start constructive and decisive negotiations on subsidies to the aerospace industry, pending the ruling that the WTO should publish in the coming months on the Boeing case.
He stressed that the aim of the EU-US trade relationship should be to avoid any escalation and to focus instead on “mutually beneficial” solutions that support businesses and consumers in both economic areas, in light of the commonality of values, interests and challenges on the international stage. To this end, the scheduled meetings between President Trump and President Von der Leyen and the ongoing negotiations between USTR and Commissioner Hogan will be of paramount importance.
Finally, the Under-Secretary outlined the scope of the Italian tax on digital services, which came into force on 1 January and will only apply – starting next year – on revenues raised in 2020. Scalfarotto confirmed Italy’s commitment and expectation to achieve a global agreement in the framework of OECD.
The visit of the Under-Secretary is part of the continuous action that Italy, first and foremost the MFA, through the Embassy and the Italian Trade Agency, is undertaking to defend Italian producers and American importers and distributors of our products.
This action is accompanied by the recent establishment of the American Italian Food Coalition, made up of more than 400 Italian companies, chaired by the former Republican Congressman, Lou Barletta, with the aim of establishing a common front for the defense of Italian products in the US; by the continuous contacts with trade associations, consortia, Italian producers, American lobbies and individual companies; by promotional initiatives such as Italy’s participation as a partner country in the most important North American trade fair, Fancy Food; by events promoting the Geographical Indications system; and by the raising awareness in all the necessary decision-making environments.