French Fries Enter Trade Fray in Belgian Bid to Defend Potatoes

(Bloomberg) -- Belgium is crying foul after Colombia imposed trade restrictions on one of the European nation’s treasured commodities: French fries.

Didier Reynders, Belgium’s minister for foreign affairs, asked his European Union peers to investigate an anti-dumping duty Colombia instituted this month on the import of frozen french fried potatoes from several countries including Belgium, according to a copy of his request obtained by Bloomberg.

The Kingdom of Belgium, famed for its golden-roasted delicacy, is concerned the measure would tarnish the country’s image and “wants to draw attention to the worrying and systemic aspect of these investigations, their impact on this important sector,” according to the document circulated ahead of a meeting of the bloc’s trade ministers in Brussels tomorrow. South Africa and Brazil have already imposed such actions.

Belgium is the world’s largest exporter of frozen potatoes, having sent out 2.2 million tons of the global staple in 2017, according to Belgapom, the Belgian trade association. Last year, the “frietkot culture” became a national intangible cultural heritage and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been known to opt for a late-night snack of “frites” at the renowned Maison Antoine kiosk during meetings of EU leaders in Brussels.

The bloc’s executive arm has already begun looking into the matter. “The EU has been closely monitoring this Colombian anti-dumping proceeding and has provided support and assistance to the EU producers concerned,” a spokesperson for the European Commission told reporters in Brussels on Thursday.

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