The U.S. Department of Commerce announced plans in July to potentially scale back planned countervailing duties against biodiesel imported into the United States, but to this point U.S. producers haven't been granted a meeting with the department.
The National Biodiesel Board and the American Soybean Association sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Monday, requesting a meeting with the department to talk about the preliminary decision.
Ross met with representatives of the Argentine government leading up to that decision.
"Since commerce issued the preliminary results in the review on July 9, our multiple requests to schedule a meeting with you have gone unanswered," the groups write in the letter. "We still hope that you can provide us the same courtesy that you provided to representatives of the government of Argentina and meet with us."
The department finalized countervailing duty rates on Argentine biodiesel imports in January 2018. That action came after an investigation found U.S. biodiesel producers were harmed by Argentina's trade practices.
In November 2018, commerce granted Argentina's request for a "changed circumstances" review, based on the Argentine government's claims it changed its tax structure. In July 2019, commerce issued a preliminary decision to virtually eliminate countervailing duties.
"It remains unclear why commerce is rushing to issue final results when recent developments in Argentina suggest a likely change in leadership and tax policy," the letter said. "It seems clear that Argentina's tax policies are likely to continue to change, as they have on numerous occasions in recent years. It is far more important for commerce to make the right decision in this review, rather than a quick decision."
Kurt Kovarik, vice president of federal affairs with NBB, said in a press statement, "The administration's rush to provide a boost to Argentina's farmers and biodiesel producers is difficult to understand. This year, U.S. farmers are earning half what they did five years ago because of trade disputes. And nine U.S. biodiesel producers have been forced to cut production, close facilities, and lay off workers because of the administration's favors to the oil industry. Opening the door to a resumption of unfairly priced biodiesel imports will only do more harm to the U.S. biodiesel industry and U.S. farmers."
Todd Neeley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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