Now here's a tax protest that we can get behind.
More than 60 of Chicago's Italian restaurants -- including well-known spots like Spiaggia, The Italian Village and Phil Stefani's 437 Rush -- have signed a petition requesting sanctions against Italian mineral water, scheduled to take effect Thursday, be suspended.
The sanctions comprise a 100 percent import duty on Italian mineral water and, according to a release from the Italian American Chamber of Commerce-Midwest, effectively doubling its price.
U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ronald Kirk modified the list of European products subject to import duties authorized by the World Trade Organization up to a value of $117 million, the release said.
This revision (called Carousel) involves 35 items from 26 countries and is aimed to put pressure on Europe to restart negotiations on U.S. hormone beef which the EU currently prohibits. It is discriminatory, the group says, because it singles out mineral water from Italy alone, while other European mineral waters remain sanction-free.
According to chamber President Robert Allegrini, who stated in the release, "it damages the economy of both Italy and the U.S. at a time when neither country can afford more economic pain. Restaurants will no longer be able to afford to carry Italian mineral water because they won't be able to sell it at the prices they will have to charge."
Italy currently produces 12 percent of the world's mineral water, 40 percent of which is exported to the United States. I hope this group is sucessful in thwarting this unfair tax, but in the meantime I'll be stocking up on the San Pellegrino.