Trump puts squeeze on Spanish olive oil producers | ANTEQUERA, Spain: Farmers had just begun harvesting olives in southern Spain when US President Donald Trump soured the mood with the announcement that

Trump puts squeeze on Spanish olive oil producers

Trump puts squeeze on Spanish olive oil producers

Trump puts squeeze on Spanish olive oil producers

Trump puts squeeze on Spanish olive oil producers

Trump puts squeeze on Spanish olive oil producers

Trump puts squeeze on Spanish olive oil producers
Trump puts squeeze on Spanish olive oil producers
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ANTEQUERA, Spain: Farmers had just begun harvesting olives in southern Spain when US President Donald Trump soured the mood with the announcement that Washington would slap hefty tariffs on their produce.

"We are really worried," said Carlos Carreira at his 130 hectare olive grove near the town of Antequera in the southern region of Andalusia.

Spain is the world's biggest producer of olive oil, and the bulk of it comes from Andalusia, whose hills and plains are dotted with olive trees with their distinctive gnarled trunks.

"Already last year prices were sometimes so low that they did not cover production costs. If we add to this a sharp rise in the price of our products in the United States, many farms may end up not being viable," Carreira added.

Several thousand olive growers, many waving olive branches marched through Madrid on Thursday to protest plunging prices and demand protection from a 25 per cent tax which the US is planning to impose from Oct 18.

The fresh tariffs announced Oct 2 target some EU agricultural and industrial products - including Spanish olives and olive oil - worth US$7.5 billion (€6.8 billion).

The tariffs are in retaliation for subsidies given by Brussels to aircraft maker Airbus.

Olives and olive oil are Spain's main agricultural exports to the United States. It exported €405 million worth of olive oil, and €179 million worth of olives, to the country last year.

At Carreira's farm, a dozen day labourers used machines to shake the olive trees, causing the fruit to fall onto long nets.

Still bright green, they will be sold as table olives. Olive oil production will begin a few weeks later when riper olives will be collected.

'TRIPPED'

But some of this "liquid gold", which sustains entire villages, risks going unsold this year because of the tariffs.

Dcoop, the cooperative which Carreira belongs to and whose headquarters sit at the entrance to Antequera, exports nearly 15 per cent of its output to the US, around 35,000 tonnes a year.

The cooperative, which groups 75,000 farmers, is a heavyweight in the sector. In some years it produces more olive oil than all of Italy.

Dcoop views the US market as a growth area, estimating olive oil consumption there could double in less than a decade.

It invested US$80 million in the US, mostly in two bottling plants in Baltimore and Los Angeles.

"All of a sudden, the market we believed in and tried to grow imposes these tariffs on us. It's like we are being tripped in the middle of a race," said Dcoop president Antonio Luque.

He said the injustice is all the greater since Spain's main European competitors like Italy, Greece and Portugal have been spared tariffs on their olives, and will certainly use this advantage to boost their market share in the US.

JOB CUTS

The cooperative will probably have to slash its workforce by 10 per cent at its main bottling plant in Andalusia.

These jobs could reappear in the US since the Trump administration has exempted bulk olive oil from the tariffs, meaning that Spanish firms could get around the levy by bottling their oil on the other side of the Atlantic.

Dcoop has not ruled out expanding its US plants, even if it would be "bad for jobs in Spain", Luque said.

Olive farmers in Andalusia are still reeling from heavy tariffs slapped by the US on black table olives in response to complaints from Californian producers who argued their Spanish rivals had an unfair advantage because of the European Union's lavish farm subsidy scheme.

Exports of black olives from Spain to the US fell by 50 per cent.

Spanish farmers accuse Spain's Socialist government of doing nothing to protect them.

Luque warned that support for the EU could decline as a result of the differing tariff advantages.

"Why stay in the European Union if things are like that in the future? All this could do so much more harm, socially, than people imagine," he said.

Russia will work with Saudi to stabilise oil market: Putin

Russia will work with Saudi to stabilise oil market: Putin

MOSCOW: Russia will work with Saudi Arabia against any "attempt to destabilise" the oil market, President Vladimir Putin said in an interview broadcast on Sunday (Oct 13), on the eve of a visit to Riyadh.

Tensions in the region are high following attacks on oil installations in Saudi Arabia, which sent prices surging, and the seizure of tankers in the Gulf.

"If anyone believes that acts such as the seizing of tankers or strikes against oil infrastructure could in any way affect the cooperation between Russia and our Arab friends ... they are very wrong," Putin said.

"We will absolutely work with Saudi Arabia and our other partners and friends in the Arab world ... to reduce to zero any attempt to destabilise the oil market," he said in the interview with Arabic-language news channels.

In recent years, non-member Russia has cooperated closely with the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which is led by Saudi Arabia.

The group has sought to limit supply, leading to a rebound in prices after the collapse of 2014-2015, which badly hit the Russian economy.

"Our goal is to stabilise the situation in the global hydrocarbon market," Putin said.

Last month, Saudi Arabia, the US and a number of European nations accused Iran of being behind the drone attacks on Saudi infrastructure.

Tehran denied involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by Yemen's Huthi rebels.

Putin said Russia was ready to participate in an investigation into the incidents.

Moscow, which has "good relations with all the countries in the region" could also play a "positive role" in attempts to ease tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Putin said.

Second Ebola vaccine to be used in DR Congo next month

Second Ebola vaccine to be used in DR Congo next month

KINSHASA: Doctors will use a second Ebola vaccine from November in three eastern provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo to fight the deadly virus, medical officials said on Sunday (Oct 13).

"It's time to use the new Ad26-ZEBOV-GP vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson's Belgian subsidiary," said Dr Jean-Jacques Muyembe, who leads the national anti-Ebola operation in the DRC.

It will arrive in the eastern city of Goma, in North Kivu province, on Oct 18 and be used from the beginning of next month, he added.

DRC's latest Ebola epidemic, which began in August 2018, has killed 2,144 people, making it the second deadliest outbreak of the virus, after the West Africa pandemic of 2014-2016.

Muyembe said the communes of Majingo and Kahembe had been selected to receive the vaccine as they were considered the epicentres of the epidemic.

"We will extend this vaccination to our small traders who often go to Rwanda to protect our neighbours," he added.

"If it works well, we will expand vaccination in South Kivu and Ituri."

DR Congo's eastern provinces of Ituri, North Kivu and South Kivu sit on the borders with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

The Belgian laboratory will send a batch of 200,000 doses to neighbouring Rwanda and 500,000 doses in the DRC, Muyembe said.

More than 237,000 people living in active Ebola transmission zones have received a vaccination produced by the pharma giant Merck since Aug 8, 2018.

The J&J vaccine had been rejected by DRC's former health minister Oly Ilunga, who cited the risks of introducing a new product in communities where mistrust of Ebola responders is already high.

But Ilunga's resignation in July appears to have paved the way for approval of the second vaccine. He currently faces charges that he embezzled funds intended for the fight against Ebola.

In his letter of resignation Ilunga said "actors who have demonstrated a lack of ethics" want to introduce a second vaccine, but did not elaborate.

Muyembe, who took over the Ebola fight in the DRC in July, said "The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has the most science-based data."

Tennis: Medvedev thumps Zverev to win Shanghai Masters title

Tennis: Medvedev thumps Zverev to win Shanghai Masters title

SHANGHAI: Daniil Medvedev won his fourth title of a spectacular year with a thumping 6-4, 6-1 victory over Alexander Zverev in the Shanghai Masters final on Sunday (Oct 13).

Victory for the 23-year-old Russian, contesting a sixth final in a row, was more evidence that he is the prime contender to join the "Big Three" of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

The US Open finalist is also able to say that he has finally beaten the German Zverev, another young contender at 22, at the fifth attempt.

This was an emphatic statement from the world number four, needing just 74 minutes to seal the crown.

"I think the stadium was full today and you guys are amazing support, starting from my first match," Medvedev told the crowd.

"You gave me good energy to win this tournament. Thank you very much, Shanghai will always be a special place in my heart."

Zverev, long touted as the best of the new generation of men's tennis stars, was error-prone, but had no complaints.

"As I said yesterday, you are probably the best player in the world right now," the world number six told Medvedev.

"How you are playing is unbelievable."

Medvedev made a fast start, winning his service game and then breaking Zverev's for an early 2-0 lead.

Under a closed stadium roof because of rain in Shanghai, Zverev was suffocating, down 3-0 after 11 minutes.

But the German sent down an ace to finally get a foothold in the match and then broke back for 3-2.

The duo went with serve until Zverev conceded the set with two calamitous double faults on the trot, the last of which he transpired to gift with a horribly mis-hit second serve that drew a few giggles from the crowd.

The second set began in the same way as the first - Medvedev breaking Zverev's first service game for a prompt 2-0 lead.

He then broke once more in the fourth for a dominant victory, and sealed the title with an ace - and the most subtle of smiles.

The next generation has stamped its authority on Shanghai with Djokovic and Federer -beaten by Zverev - both going out in the quarter-finals.

Nadal failed to play because of a wrist injury.

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