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Ex-GOP congressman to lead group to protect Italian products from tariffs

Former Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.) is leading a new coalition to prevent Italian-made goods from being targeted by U.S. trade policies.

Barletta will lead the American Italian Food Coalition (AIFC), a consortium of companies seeking to protect Italian pasta, coffee, biscuits and wafers from U.S. tariff policies, the Times Leader first reported.

The former GOP congressman served four terms in the House and unsuccessfully ran to unseat Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) in 2018. Barletta also served on President Trump’s transition team. 

“Tariffs are complex economic policies that should be applied with scalpel-like precision. We’re confident we can work with the Trump administration to accomplish the objectives of the administration without unfairly targeting Italian companies,” Barletta said in a statement.

The AIFC is made up of Italian food companies, manufacturers and trade associations, all with the goal of preventing Italian imports from being affected by tariffs.

Companies have voiced concerns about European products being impacted by U.S. tariffs amid a long-running dispute over European airplane manufacturer Airbus.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has pushed for retaliatory tariffs on European products in response to subsidies Airbus received from Europe.

But the AIFC argues that Italian-made goods should not be part of the USTR retaliatory tariffs because when Airbus received subsidies from European Union states, Italy was not one of them. 

“I’m a proud Italian-American, and Italy has stood side-by-side with the United States for centuries. Italian-American communities are part of our own history,” Barletta said Tuesday.

“That’s why I’m leading this coalition, because while I understand the President’s position on tariffs, Italy shouldn’t be punished for the actions of other European countries,” he added.

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