Attn. Roquefort Lovers: Import Tax Nixed

Silly tariff on "luxury" foods that would have jacked prices by as much as 300% -- is off the table

By Elizabeth Bougerol
|  Thursday, May 7, 2009  |  Updated 1:59 PM EDT
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Attn. Roquefort Lovers: Import Tax Nixed

Ah, Roquefort: So glad to have you back.

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Remember how we were sobbing over Bush's import tariffs on luxury eats from the E.U., the ones imposed in retaliation for Europe refusing to buy our hormone-addled beef? Great news! The European Commission and the U.S. have just announced a provisional agreement that would stave off taxes on goods such as Spanish ham, Italian mineral water and Roquefort cheese. The latter was especially hard hit, with a 300% tax making it so expensive, most cheesemongers planned to stop selling it entirely (Murray's Cheese Shop even had an "Au Revoir Roquefort" party where they served up samples of other blue cheeses they'd be offering once the tax kicked in).

The same agreement also triples the amount of beef from cattle untreated by hormones that the U.S. can export to the EU. Admittedly, this doesn't resolve the fundamental disagreement over whether hormone-treated beef is unsafe (the U.S. maintains it is, the E.U. isn't buying that), as the WSJ notes. But for now, we'll take what we can get: Conscientious U.S. farmers sell more beef, we get to eat European cheese without taking out a loan -- everybody wins.

Does this mean we can look forward to a "Bonjour, Roquefort" party at our local cheese shops?

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