It brought Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn around the streets of the Italian capital in their Roman Holiday, becoming the symbol of Made in Italy all over the world, especially the United States. And now, ironically, the very Americans, who love so much the Italian art, fashion and cooking, are preparing to hit one of the most popular products that the “beautiful country” exports.
There is also the Vespa among the victims of protectionist intentions announced by Donald Trump: the flagship of Piaggio is accompanied from the mineral water San Pellegrino, the French Perrier, some transalpine cheeses like Roquefort and foie gras, the Austrian KTM motorcycle and Swedish Husqvarna. Luxury items and not finished in the crosshairs of the US government and its commercial offensive against Europe: Washington thinks of punitive duties of up to 100% of the declared value of the products. A move which would be likely to make up the price skyrocketing in the US, putting them out of business for American consumers.
For the moment, The Donald was limited to sign two decrees to “combat the commercial abuse” toward the United States: the White House complains, in fact, a trade deficit of 500 billion dollars per year compared to the rest of the world. That’s why the first measure wanted by Trump is a major revision of the deficit to check any abuses. The second decree strengthens the anti-dumping rules to “prevent unfair competition from foreign companies compared with American companies.”
But, according to the Wall Street Journal, behind the trade war threatened by the president there would be a dispute that has gone on for years: the European ban on the import of American beef treated with hormones. In 2008 the World Trade Organization (WTO) had declared illegal the ban, but the agreement reached a year later between the US and EU, it would not be respected by the Europeans, is the accusation that originates overseas. Hence, the “revenge” to the sound of duties orchestrated by the US government.
The trade war threatened by Washington immediately triggered a series of critical reactions. “Protectionism is for us half disaster – says Luca Colombo, Italy Facebook – Facebook’s mission is to make open and connected world, many players in this field and many digital platforms is a contradiction”. As a “reputational damage and financial” speaks Roberto Colaninno, president of Piaggio, “What should we do? We can not declaring war against America. We hope that everything goes flat. However I’m not sure we’ll be touched. Piaggio produces also Vespas in Vietnam. It is not yet clear whether these new duties will hit the mark and the codes that identify products or the country that produces them. Because if it were a measure against the country, we could easily bypass it in America selling Vespas produced in Vietnam”. While for the Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, “a country like Italy must be fond of the idea that quality has no borders and duties, protectionism and barriers closures may not be able to put a stop to quality”.
Certainly, the Vespa used in the movie, in 1953, in the US today would cost a lot more. And not just because it was used by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn.