BRUSSELS, June 13 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) sharply criticized the United States on Wednesday for deciding to impose tariffs on Spanish olives, saying the move is "unacceptable" and a "protectionist measure".
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced Tuesday that it would impose punitive tariffs on Spanish olives, arguing they were being sold at prices far below their real value and benefit from unfair subsidies.
"The decision by the United States Department of Commerce to impose unreasonably high and prohibitive anti-subsidy and anti-dumping duties on Spanish olives is simply unacceptable," said European Commission spokesman Daniel Rosario at a news briefing in Brussels.
"This is a protectionist measure targeting a high-quality and successful EU product popular with U.S. consumers," Rosario continued.
He said neither the substance of the decision nor the process that led to it were justified.
The final decision will rest with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC), which is expected to make a final decision on Spanish olive imports on July 24.
The EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and agriculture commissioner Phil Hogan had both raised the issue at a high political level on various occasions, the spokesman said.
"We are also well aware of possible wider implications of this process," Rosario added.
The EU has been at odds with Washington over trade issues after the U.S. imposed duties on steel and aluminium imports. The EU has announced it will make retaliatory tariffs on a list of U.S. products from early July.