EU vote to lower Argentine biodiesel duties prompts add'l action

By Ron Kotrba | September 11, 2017

An EU committee vote last week will result in moving forward with the European Commission’s proposal to lower antidumping duties on Argentine biodiesel. The commission’s proposal to lower the duties originally set in 2013 was put forth after a World Trade Organization appellate body report issued last year sided with Argentina in the longstanding trade dispute.  

The vote took place in the EU Trade Defence Instruments Committee, according to Copa-Cogeca, a European trade group representing European farmers and agri-cooperatives. Announcement of the the vote or its outcome was not available on official EU government websites, even days after the vote*. Andra Koke, advisor to the hearing officer at the European Commission’s hearing office for trade proceedings, told Biodiesel Magazine that proceedings of the trade defence committee are, in principle, confidential.

The commission has until Sept. 28 to bring its duties in conformity with the WTO appellate body report.

The new, lower duties are expected to countervail the dumping margins vs. the injury margins. They have been reduced from 22 to 25.7 percent down to 4.5 to 8.1 percent, depending on the company.

In a press release published after the Sept. 7 vote, Germany’s Union for the Promotion of Oil and Protein Plants (UFOP) stated Argentina exported approximately 1.5 million metric tons of soybean methyl ester into the European Union in 2012 before the introduction of antidumping duties. “The expected supply pressure [after the Sept. 7 vote] is already noticeable,” UFOP said. “The Matif exchange in Paris responded immediately on [the afternoon of Sept. 7]: The rape price for the November and the February contract fell by 5.25 euros per ton. What quantities are actually still imported in 2017 cannot yet be estimated. The UFOP hopes that the upcoming winter season and the required winter quality for biodiesel as a precondition for the admixture will have a slowing effect on the import activities.”

According to information provided by the European biodiesel Board, a total of 10 countries voted against the commission’s proposal to lower the antidumping duties. Those countries were Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Slovakia. Votes in favor included the U.K., the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. According to the EBB, 12 countries abstained, including Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Spain and Greece, among others.

“With 12 countries having abstained from the vote, and only six countries in favor of the commission’s proposal, member states have given the commission a clear signal that they are not satisfied with the commission’s solution,” Copa-Cogeca stated. “The outcome of the vote can therefore be interpreted as a call for action of an overwhelming majority of EU member states (22 out of 28 did not explicitly approve of the commission’s proposal) not to be convinced about the commission proposal. But what is essential and of utmost importance is the fact that during the meeting all member states delegates (even those from traditionally free-trade countries as UK, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Sweden, which is surprising) took the floor in order to express a strong support to a quick and efficient antisubsidy action to impose new EU duties against Argentinean unfair imports.”

Copa-Cogeca plans to join forces with EBB and FEDIOL, the association for the vegetable oil and protein meal industry, in their joint actions on antisubsidy measures against Argentina in the coming weeks. The EBB is working to prepare an antisubsidy complaint against Argentina, to be filed as soon as possible. The organization will request that the commission registers the imports with the possibility of retroactive collection of duties. 

Biodiesel Magazine requested comment on the matter from the Argentine biodiesel chamber, CARBIO, and still awaited response at the time of publication.

*Editor’s Note: The European Commission’s regulation to lower duties on Argentine biodiesel imports was published Sept. 18 in the Official Journal of the European Union. Click here to access the regulation. 

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