Senators push for transparency in Argentina subsidy review

By The National Biodiesel Board | February 27, 2019

The National Biodiesel Board thanked a bipartisan group of 14 senators led by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, on Feb. 26 for writing to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross regarding his agency’s recently launched “changed circumstances” review of U.S. duties on biodiesel imports from Argentina. In the letter, the senators ask the commerce department to develop a complete record of Argentina’s biodiesel trade actions before determining whether revisiting the U.S. duties is warranted.

The letter notes that in early 2018 the U.S. Department of Commerce issued countervailing duty and antidumping orders on imports of certain biodiesel products from Argentina, following an extensive trade investigation. Then in December 2018, the department initiated “changed circumstances” reviews to assess Argentina’s most recent modification to its export tax regime and whether it warrants a review of the U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty orders issued only months before.

“It is unclear why commerce would afford a special review to Argentina and its biodiesel industry when the ink on these antidumping and countervailing duty orders is barely dry,” the group of senators states in the letter. “In the short period since the antidumping and countervailing duty orders were imposed, U.S. biodiesel producers have been able to compete on a more level playing field and the U.S. biodiesel industry has begun to recover from the injury caused by the unfair trade practices of the Argentine government and industry.”

Domestic biodiesel production increased by 17 percent or more than 300 million gallons in 2018 compared to 2017.

The letter is co-signed by Sens. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri; Mike Braun, R-Indiana; Dick Durbin, D-Illinois; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska; Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire; Patty Murray, D-Washington; Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire; Tina Smith, D-Wisconsin; Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan; John Thune, R-South Dakota; and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island. A copy of the letter is available for download.

Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s vice president of federal affairs, added, “NBB and its members appreciate the leadership of Sens. Grassley, Cantwell and others from across the country who raised their concerns about fair trade with Secretary Ross. Over the past two years, Argentina has made more than a dozen changes to its export tax rates and has continued to massively subsidize its biodiesel industry. Given this history, the commerce department should understand that Argentina is very likely to continue subsidizing its domestic biodiesel industry in the future. The commerce department’s changed circumstances reviews must take into account a full record of Argentina’s actions since the closing of its prior investigation.”


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