EU to cut import duty on Argentine biofuel
September 14, 2017
The EU will sharply cut its import duties on Argentine biodiesel by the end of September after a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling in Argentina’s favour last autumn.
The tariffs, currently set at between 22% and 25.7%, would be lowered to between 4.5% and 8.1% by 28 September, Reuters wrote on 7 September.
Argentina filed a complaint with the WTO after the EU in November 2013 set anti-dumping taxes against the country, claiming that its export tax on soyabeans allowed domestic Argentine biodiesel producers to dump fuel in Europe at unfairly low prices.
The WTO ruled in Argentina’s favour in October 2016, upholding its claims that the EU measures were “protectionist” and had caused Argentina annual losses of US$1.6bn in sales.
“This is … what we’ve been hoping for after a four-year negotiation. Now we have high hopes that after this we will be able to sell biodiesel to Europe once again,” Luis Zubizarreta, president of Argentina biodiesel trade group Carbio, told Reuters.
European biodiesel producers were anxious about the tariff cut, as they feared that the measure could have “major consequences” for the industry, particularly after the USA last month imposed countervailing duties of up to 64.17% on Argentine biodiesel.
Yves Delaine, CEO of the EU largest biofuel producer Saipol, called the EU’s decision “very worrying”, adding that it was the exact opposite of what the USA was doing and could risk Europe becoming a “spillway” for product that is no longer accepted elsewhere.
The EU’s 8.8-20.5% import duty on Indonesian palm oil-based biodiesel remained in place for the time being, but the Southeast Asian country had a complaint pending with the WTO.
According to Reuters, an EU court annulled the bloc’s biodiesel duties in 2016, saying that the prices for biodiesel raw materials – palm oil and soyabeans – were not regulated and that the EU had not established that there was “appreciable distortion” in biodiesel prices due to the Argentine and Indonesian export duties, but the EU appealed the decision.
Some trade lawyers were also arguing that the ruling could determine the EU’s trade relations with China, as it had said it could use international benchmark prices to work out the costs of cheaper Chinese imports – such as steel – to domestic producers in order to determine whether illegal dumping or subsidising was taking place.