EU biodiesel imports nearly triple in 2018

EU biodiesel imports nearly tripled in 2018 compared to 2017, when anti-dumping tariffs on the fuel from Argentina and Indonesia were suspended, according to Germany’s oil and protein plants association, UFOP.

“Whereas biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia only played a secondary role in previous years, things have changed profoundly since October 2017,” UFOP said on 28 February.

The European Commission (EC) began investigating Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel imports in 2012 and imposed anti-dumping duties in 2013, but had to remove most of them in 2017 after losing challenges at the World Trade Organization (WTO) and European Court of Justice.

UFOP’s figures show that in 2017, EU biodiesel imports totalled 1.165M tonnes, with Argentina accounting for 356,000 tonnes and Malaysia taking a 387,000 tonne share.

However, in 2018, the EU’s biodiesel imports nearly tripled, totalling 3.329M tonnes, with Argentina accounting for 1.648M tonnes, and Indonesia taking a 785,000 tonne share.

In contrast, the EU imported just 545,000 tonnes of biodiesel in 2016, with Malaysia supplying the majority share of 285,000 tonnes.

UFOP said that although the EU was the world's biggest producer of biodiesel, with an output of 13M tonnes including hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), production capacities had not been used fully for many years because of an absence of marketing possibilities.

The association said the EC was insufficiently committed to protecting European production of biodiesel and rapeseed.

“In fact, we fear that in the case of Indonesia, pending EU proceedings will result in another trade-based compromise. The reason is that the EU has launched an initiative for resuming negotiations with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The EU must have something to offer to raise interest.”

After the EU removed anti-dumping duties against Argentina and Indonesia in 2017, the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) requested further investigations into the countries’ alleged subsidies of their biodiesel industries. In January, Argentina and the EU reached a settlement in which eight named biodiesel producers would be allowed to export a maximum of around 1.2M tonnes/year of biodiesel to the EU without paying duties as long as they meet a minimum price scheme.

The EU investigation into Indonesia is still ongoing.