As of March 23 of this year, the U.S. government will charge 100 percent tariffs on a number of Irish food products exported from Ireland that will cause prices to soar dramatically. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said that the new charges, which were announced on January 15, are in "retaliation in the fight over the EU's long-standing ban on U.S. beef raised with artificial growth hormones." The EU bans the import of beef and beef products produced from animals to which any of six hormones have been administered for growth promotion purposes. Such a ban adversely affects most of the beef produced in the U.S. Outraged with the ban, the U.S. said such an expulsion was not scientifically proven and responded with a retaliatory 100 percent tariff on various exports from the EU in 1999. In a separate matter, the U.S. bans EU beef from entering the country because of its BSE (mad cow disease) history. The U.S. levy on certain food products to date has been relatively low, but the new duties to be imposed next moth will target products produced from 26 EU member states as opposed to 14 in the past. An additional 45 new products have been added to the list, including Irish products including oatmeal, raspberry jam, certain pork cuts and chocolate. All of those will now be subjected to a 100 percent tariff. Although there was a small tariff on all of these products in the past, the new cost is much more significant. Irish oatmeal, which up to now had a 0.5 percent tariff, will, as of March, carry a 100 percent levy, making it much more costly for the product to be exported from Ireland. Another big seller is Irish chocolate, which will also be subjected to the new 100 percent levy. Businesses that will be affected directly by this new tariff include local Irish owned establishments across the country. Proprietor of the Butcher's Fancy in Yonkers Oliver Charles told the Irish Voice on Tuesday that although he had heard some rumors of an increase, he hadn't received any definite confirmation. If the increase in some products does come into effect Charles said he fears Irish people will chose the cheaper alternative. "Of course there is nothing wrong with that either," he said. Charles carries Oatmeal, raspberry jam and Irish chocolate in his store. He doesn't, however, buy imported pork from Ireland. "The older people love the oatmeal. They come in here all the time to buy it," said Charles. On the Irish chocolate, Charles said that it's the younger generation that buys the majority of it. Over the years the price of imported Irish chocolate has escalated, and Charles said that if it goes up again the younger people might stop buying it for a while. "But they will miss it and possibly go back to buying it regardless of the price," he said. Charles said that he recently got a shipment of Irish oatmeal that is good until November. "I will keep selling the oatmeal at the same price but after November I will just have to see what happens," he added, hoping it won't hurt business too much. Responding to the new levies, the EU pledged to challenge the changes at the World Trade Organization. It is still unclear what kind of procedure and legal argument the EU will make.

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