Trade issues steal the show at EBB's general assembly

By Nicholas Zeman | December 21, 2009
Fraud and artificial trade activities created the circumstances for "a number of important events" that were topics of discussion at the European Biodiesel Board's General Assembly meeting held Nov. 24 in Brussels. At the top of the list was the successful outcome of EBB legal action against unfair U.S. biodiesel imports (B99) threatening EU producers in the marketplace.

"These duties, however, are not preventing fraud and artificial trade of other biodiesel blends," Raffaello Garofalo, secretary general of EBB, told Biodiesel Magazine. "Some people are importing a 19 percent blend because it is not held to any technical promotion and is kind of outside the substantial legal perspective of the duty."

In addition, EBB said that circumvention patterns, or "triangular trade," started materializing soon after the imposition of the EU duties. There are strong and consistent indications that U.S. subsidized and dumped biodiesel continues to enter the EU market, either via triangular trade with third countries based on fraudulent declarations of origins or through blends (at B19 or lower level) specifically designed to circumvent the EU anti-dumping and countervailing duties in force.

"We think that U.S. biodiesel is going to Canada and other locations and then being redirected to the EU," Garofalo said. "I am not accusing these countries of fraud, but we have evidence that makes it hard not to suspect that it's going on. We will be presenting this information to the anti-fraud police authorities in the EU."

Officially, EBB has lodged an anti-circumvention complaint to EU trade authorities. "This timely decision comes as the necessary reaction to trade practices undermining the remedial effect of the EU anti-dumping and countervailing duties," EBB stated. "Market players need to be aware that EBB will oppose circumvention and fraud by all means. If and when established, these practices will lead to heavy and retroactive financial penalties."

Argentina's Chamber for Renewable Energy has accused EBB of being protectionist in its stance against foreign biodiesel and that its statements along these lines are overblown. Several biodiesel companies in Canada told Biodiesel Magazine last summer that they would not participate in such practices.

Biodiesel sustainability was also a prime topic of conversation at the general assembly, especially in light of the standards adopted in the EU's Renewable Energy Directive. Producers there are waiting for official guidelines to be released.
"It is equally essential that the practical implementation of biofuels sustainability rules takes into account the reality of industry practices and the day-to-day function of the biofuels supply chain," EBB said. "At the same time, only a harmonized implementation of the sustainability requirements at a national level will ensure that sustainable biofuels production is effectively rewarded."

EBB also elected its officers for 2010. The general assembly renewed the appointment of Bernard Nicol of Diester Industries as the president. EBB vice presidents and board members were also confirmed with the addition of Claudio Roccieta from Italian producer, Oxem, and Tomas Hagstrom of Sweden's Perstorp.
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