November 15, 2019 / 12:00 PM / a month ago

A chip on its shoulder? EU files WTO complaint against Colombia

FILE PHOTO: Freshly cooked fries are seen in the Maison Antoine frites stand in Brussels December 4, 2014. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization on Friday against Colombia over duties imposed on frozen potato fries from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

Colombia imposed anti-dumping duties of between 3% and 8% on frozen fries for two years in November 2018 after complaining that the prices of these imports were artificially low.

Although small in monetary terms - the EU as a whole exports just 19 million euros ($20.9 million) of frozen fries to Colombia per year - the dispute is big in symbolism particularly for Belgium, which argues that it invented the “French” fry.

The duties affect 85% of EU exports of frozen fries to Colombia.

The duties breached WTO law in terms of substance and because of the procedure to put them in place, the European Commission said.

“Despite numerous interventions with Colombia to lift the unjustified measures, we have not received a satisfactory response,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement.

The first step in a WTO dispute is a 60-day period of consultations. If these do not resolve the issue, the complainant can ask for a WTO panel to adjudicate.

The EU and Colombia have had a trade deal in place since 2013.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Marine Strauss and Frances Kerry

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