Ethanol Blog

Senators Press Commerce Secretary Ross on Argentine Biodiesel Review

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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A group of senators led by Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, are asking for answers from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on the decision to review countervailing duty and antidumping orders on imports of biodiesel from Argentina. (Photo courtesy of the National Biodiesel Board)

A group of 14 United States senators are pressing U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross for answers as to why his department recently launched a review of U.S. duties on biodiesel imports from Argentina.

Early in 2018 the U.S. Department of Commerce issued countervailing duty and antidumping orders on imports of certain biodiesel products from Argentina, following a trade investigation.

In December 2018, the DOC initiated "changed circumstances" reviews to assess Argentina's recent export tax regime modification and whether it warrants a review of the U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty orders issued.

In a letter to Ross on Tuesday, the senators question why the DOC would review the decision when it has helped U.S. biodiesel producers.

"U.S. biodiesel producers have increased production by more than 16%, producing more than 1.5 billion gallons of fuel over the first 10 months of 2018," the letter said. "The industry is reinvesting in its operations, building additional capacity for future production and growing jobs. The U.S. biodiesel industry supports more than 60,000 U.S. jobs and $11 billion in domestic economic activity.

"We understand that commerce has already initiated these changed circumstances reviews and must carry through with them. We ask that the agency apply the same rigor and transparency that it applies in standard administrative reviews. Commerce should develop a complete record of actions by the Argentine government and industry to determine if revisiting the antidumping and countervailing duty rates is warranted."

The letter is signed by Republican Sens. Charles Grassley, Joni Ernst, John Thune, Roy Blunt, Mike Braun, Deb Fischer and Jeanne Shaheen, and Democratic Sens. Patty Murray, Margaret Wood Hassan, Tina Smith, Debbie Stabenow, Richard Durbin, Sheldon Whitehouse and Maria Cantwell.

The DOC imposed final countervailing duty rates earlier this year ranging from 71.45% to 72.28% and antidumping duty rates ranging from 60.44% to 86.41%.

In Argentina's request for a review, the country said it has "decreased significantly the export tax on soybeans and other commodities in the soybean value chain, and imposed a new biodiesel export tax," that warrants a review by U.S. officials.

U.S. officials set the higher rates to essentially level the playing field for U.S. producers to compete with producers that receive government subsidies in Argentina and Indonesia. Biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia grew by 464% from 2014 to 2016, according to the National Biodiesel Board, essentially erasing 18.3 percentage points of market share from U.S. producers.

In 2016, imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia were valued at an estimated $1.2 billion and $268 million, respectively, according to the DOC.

Read the letter here:…

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