The disdain that many Americans have for Donald Trump’s administration extends overseas. This week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Rome, where on Tuesday he held a press conference alongside Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte — which was crashed by an anti-Trump demonstrator in a very memorable fashion. They gave Pompeo a block of Parmesan cheese that they asked to be taken to Trump in a display they explained as a protest against the Trump administration’s harsh trade stance towards Europe, which has included threatened steep tariffs on Parmesan cheese. Pompeo just stood there grinning like someone who had no idea what was going on, although it’s not like the protester was speaking Italian.
The demonstrator wasn’t just anyone — they were a correspondent for the Italian satirical political news program Le Iene named Alice Martinelli. (Think of something like The Daily Show or Saturday Night Live, it seems.)
She told Pompeo, after explaining that the cheese was “what we make best in Italy”:
‘Take it to Mr. Trump, please, and tell him we make it with our heart.’
Eventually, Comte had security escort Martinelli from the scene. The program she works for explained her move after the fact as meant to protest the tariffs that would — according to a translation — “kill our exports.” They’ve been threatened to reach as high as 100 percent, essentially doubling the price of everything that’s under their shadow.
STASERA A #LEIENE😎@AlyMartinelli consegna il parmigiano al segretario di stato USA Pompeo contro i dazi che ucciderebbero il nostro export. Il premier Conte non ha gradito… Non perdetevi la prima puntata de Le Iene oggi dalle 21.25 su Italia1 👉 https://t.co/e0vYyhUQeh pic.twitter.com/R2hgn3cxSy
— Le Iene (@redazioneiene) October 1, 2019
Like in other cases in which the Trump administration has muddied relations with a counterpart, negotiations about a possible way forward have not been progressing and the European Union has reportedly been considering the implementation of tariffs targeting a number of American goods in response.
The Gellert Global Group’s Tom Gellert explains:
‘100% duties would be really devastating. We’re going to make these items so expensive and so unmarketable we won’t import them anymore… The uncertainty alone is already frustrating. It’s very difficult to budget when we don’t know what the cost of our products is going to be.’
‘About 14,000 specialty food retailers, along with 20,000 other food retailers across the country, would be affected by the tariffs, according to the Specialty Food Association. Food importers are worried, too. If sales go down, they’ll be doing less business.’
That would not be the first point at which American businesses and consumers would suffer. Despite Trump’s repeated insistence to the contrary, when he imposes an import tax, it’s those trying to do the importing that are hit and have to pay up — meaning, in this case, American businesses. Already imposed and threatened tariffs targeting the European Union in particular have already affected major American companies. Harley-Davidson, for instance, moved some of their operations overseas to avoid prohibitive cost barriers altogether — which Trump responded to with derision, painting the move as some kind of betrayal.
It’s a perhaps less attended to front of a trade war system that’s also roped in China, who have been trading barbs with the United States in the form of tariffs and retaliatory tariffs for some time now. Negotiations about moving that situation forward haven’t been getting anywhere.
Featured Image via screenshot