This seems an unlikely spot to fight a trade war.
A village of 600 souls in a remote part of southern France, Roquefort clings precariously to the side of Combalou Rock, a promontory overlooking a deep valley where sheep graze in the shadow of limestone cliffs that were sheared off by a seismic jolt in prehistoric times.
But the primal shake also carved out aerated underground crevasses that give a unique economic value to this jagged landscape about 65 miles northwest of Montpellier. They make possible a gastronomical wonder that has delighted gourmets for centuries: Roquefort cheese. And now, in an era of globalized competition for trade, the smelly delicacy and its little home town have become ground zero for the warriors of export-import in Washington.
The United States, it turns out, has declared war on Roquefort cheese.
In its final days, the Bush administration imposed a 300 percent duty on Roquefort, in effect closing off the U.S. market. Americans, it declared, will no longer get to taste the creamy concoction that, in its authentic, most glorious form, comes with an odor of wet sheep and veins of blue mold that go perfectly with rye bread and coarse red wine.
The measure, announced Jan. 13 by U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab as she headed out the door, was designed as retaliation for a European Union ban on imports of U.S. beef containing hormones. Tit for tat, and all perfectly legal under World Trade Organization rules, U.S. officials explained.
Full story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/28/AR2009012804071.html