Girona companies, pending Biden’s commercial policy

Girona companies are awaiting the trade policy adopted by the President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden. The difference between the future White House tenant and his predecessor, Donald Trump, is more than obvious and may lead to some variation in the protectionist, aggressive and unpredictable trade policy adopted by the American tycoon, although the business community shows caution and prefers to see how events evolve. The American market is one of the major exporting destinations for Girona products, along with Europe and, in recent years, also China. Last year, companies in the province sold 111 million euros in the United States, a turnover led by meat (with 28 million euros) and the chemical sector (which sold products worth of 12 million euros).

For now, Trump’s policies have gone against Catalan business interests. The increase in tariffs applied by his Government to European agri-food products has had a negative economic impact of about 50 million on the exports of Catalan companies to the United States, since its entry into force in October 2019 and until this August, according to data from Prodeca.

From the Promotora d’Exportacions Catalanes (Prodeca), a public company that depends on the Department of Agriculture, they estimate that the increase in tariffs of 25% that the United States began to apply in October 2019 to certain agri-food products of ‘some European countries has resulted in a fall in sales worth about 38 million euros, to which must be added the impact of 13 million euros that has led to the implementation of these new tariffs.

Tariff losses

This means that agri-food exporting companies have stopped selling for more than 50 million euros in the US market, between October 2019 and August 31, 2020, as explained by the director of Prodeca, Ramon Sentmartí. It should be remembered that the Trump administration implemented these new tariffs as a result of European government subsidies to Airbus (which harmed its big rival Boeing).

“The trend will continue”

But prudence and skepticism prevail despite the victory of the Democratic candidate. The director of Internationalization of ACCIO (Agency for the Competitiveness of the Company), Cristina Serradell, predicts that the protectionist tendency of the United States will be maintained in spite of the victory of the democratic candidate, Joe Biden, in the presidential elections. “There are certain dynamics that will ensure that there are no major changes,” says Serradell. The director of Internationalization of ACCIO emphasizes that the increase in protectionism already existed and that with the covid “it has been accelerating”.

At the same time, Serradell believes that “rhetoric” and “forms” will be different and hopes that the relationship with the EU will improve. The director of Internationalization of ACCIO recalls that the current president, Donald Trump, has already agreed to make certain concessions in tariff policies. They were “with very specific and very specific products” but were a sign, he says, that “I already wanted to build bridges with the EU.”

However, the protectionism that the United States has recently shown was already a “bottom-up” current, not only in the United States but on a global scale, according to the director of Internationalization at ACTION. Serradell emphasized who the new president would probably be – Donald Trump has not yet granted the Democratic victory and threatened appeals to the courts – who “seems more pro-European and conciliatory” and stressed his desire to return to multilateral agreements and international consensus.

The ACCIÓ leader emphasized the importance of the United States, which is Catalonia’s seventh largest trading partner abroad and the first outside Europe, accounting for 3.6% of Catalan exports.

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