EU biodiesel stakeholders urge commission to reconsider duties

By Ron Kotrba | October 02, 2018

An important meeting of the Trade Defence Instruments Committee looms Oct. 3 at the European Commission, one for which European biodiesel advocates are calling on member states to raise the issue of reinstating tariffs on Argentine biodiesel.

On Sept. 21, the EC concluded that it did not have all the available data to impose countervailing duties to offset subsidies given by the Argentine government to biodiesel producers that export product. According to the European Oilseed Alliance and the European Biodiesel Board, this decision has taken place against the backdrop of the EC’s recognition that Argentina has introduced an illegal subsidy system.

“The commission investigation found evidence that the Argentinean differential export taxes (DETs) mechanism is a price distortive and an unfair subsidization practice,” stated the EBB. “It also demonstrated the existence of an injury for our industry, with the EU biodiesel market literally flooded by unfair Argentinean exports and huge consequential economic damages for EU industry, farmers and employment. Surprisingly, however, the proposal of the commission is not to set a provisional duty, and wait for more time, in order to clear all doubts that a potential duty will serve EU interests.”

Last year, the EC ended antidumping duties on Argentine imports of biodiesel, immediately followed by a complaint lodged by the European Biodiesel Board to introduce countervailing duties to offset subsidies provided to Argentine biodiesel producers by their government.

The EBB warned that if no provisional duties are imposed soon, the EU biodiesel industry “will again be severely impacted by unfair trade flows, with a potential for catastrophic consequences for the EU green economy, European agriculture and jobs,” the organization stated. “Although a registration of all unfair imports from Argentina has been set since last June, Argentinean exporters seem so confident that the EU authorities will not make full use of EU Trade Defence Instruments, that they are braving all risks of retroactive duties and have even accelerated their trade flows towards the EU, at the point of reaching an historic peak with almost 250,000 metric tons last July, representing 25 percent of the EU market. In this context, a number of EU producers have already stopped production and some even bankrupted, and there the industry can wait no longer for provisional duties and the protection they deserve from the EU.”

The EOA called the EC’s Sept. 21 decision “simply incomprehensible for European oilseed farmers and the biodiesel sector, who saw a whopping 1.5 million metric tons of Argentinian soy biodiesel enter the EU between September 2017 and July 2018.”

“European farmers are once again being held hostage,” said Arnaud Rousseau, EOA president. “While the EU had promised a Europe that protects, empowers and defends, we fear that these setbacks, only a few months before European elections, could be felt as an abandonment of the farming sector and fuel populist votes.”

“It is difficult to understand how the Commission would need more time to verify the EU interest of setting high provisional duties against Argentina,” said Raffaello Garofalo, EBB secretary general. “While in the absence of such duties a whole path of EU green economy, agriculture and jobs is going to collapse.”

The EBB stated that the EC has demonstrated a provisional duty higher than 30 percent “is ready to be applied.”  


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