Argentina biodiesel exports fully halted due to COVID-19

Biodiesel exports from Argentina have completely halted due to the coronavirus pandemic affecting demand in Europe, the head of th local industry chamber told Reuters on 5 May.

According to data from the state statistics agency, the country exported around 1M tonnes of biodiesel worth US$775M (£623M) last year with the top destination being the European Union (EU), which had quotas for blending petrol with biodiesel. The drop in fuel consumption there during the pandemic had paralysed the Argentine biodiesel industry, which had generated up to around US$1.7bn/year.

“Currently the export industry is stopped,” said Luis Zubizaretta, head of the Argentine biofuels chamber (CARBIO), which includes agribusiness trading giants like Bunge and Cargill.

“Today our only market is Europe and second quarter exports to Europe totally stopped.”

Zubizaretta said export biodiesel plants in the country were currently inactive and that due to the stoppage, there would be a soyabean oil surplus in Argentina this year.

“Next quarter will surely be complicated by low fuel demand. Today the exporting industry is 100% stopped,” said Zubizarreta, adding that a reopening of the US market for Argentine biodiesel would hopefully ease the situation.

However, Progressive Farmer reported on 7 May that the US Department of Commerce (DOC) had decided to leave duties in place on Argentine biodiesel imports.

The DOC had imposed final countervailing duty rates in 2018 ranging from 71.45% to 72.28% and anti-dumping duty rates ranging from 60.44% to 86.41%.

The DOC determined that there were no "changed circumstances" to warrant changes in the US duty rates, Progressive Farmer said.