Europe Cancels Ethanol Duties

Producers hope to reestablish trade as an antidumping duty ends.

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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Ethanol exports from the United States to the European Union will soon begin to grow after the EU commission ended a 9.5% antidumping duty on U.S. imports, Image by Matthew Wilde

The European Union Commission canceled an ethanol antidumping duty against U.S. imports in place since 2013, essentially reopening a collapsed market.

After a review, the commission concluded removing the duty would not increase the likelihood of dumping of U.S. ethanol on the European Union (EU) market. The 9.5% duty had been put in place as a result of a complaint filed by the EU’s largest ethanol producer group, ePURE.

In its decision to cancel the duty, the EU commission concluded it is “unlikely U.S. bioethanol producers would export significant quantities of bioethanol to the Union at dumped prices should the measures be allowed to lapse.”

The commission said it found no evidence U.S. ethanol exports increased because of any lack of growing domestic demand. The investigation showed consumption of fuel ethanol in the three major U.S. export markets increased by 1.3 million tons, while production in those countries grew by 200,000 tons.

Moreover, the investigation showed not only were U.S. production and exports of ethanol growing but also domestic consumption. In the period considered, U.S. production increased by 4.8 million tons, exports by 1.5 million tons and domestic consumption by 3.1 million tons.

175-MILLION-GALLON MARKET

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, USDA and the U.S. Department of Commerce, ethanol exports from the United States to the EU stood at about 175 million gallons in 2012. After the EU implemented antidumping duties on the U.S. product, exports collapsed to around 25 million gallons in 2013. Those exports fell to near zero by 2016.

U.S. exports to Brazil made up for the loss of the EU market, growing from about 50 million gallons in 2013 to about 450 million in 2016. Considering that U.S. ethanol plants produce about 2.8 gallons per bushel of corn, export market restoration in the EU to 2012 levels would create a demand for about 62.5 million bushels of corn (less than 1% of all corn produced in the U.S.).

The EU commission’s decision was met with praise from U.S. ethanol and agriculture interest groups.

“By removing unjustified duties on U.S. ethanol, the commission is opening critical new opportunities for member states to take full advantage of affordable, low-carbon biofuels,” says Craig Willis, senior vice president of global markets for Growth Energy. “It’s a win-win for our EU trading partners, who will be better positioned to meet their environmental goals while holding down prices for European drivers.”

Tom Sleight, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Grains Council, says the decision was timely for U.S. producers. “We look forward to working with our customers and counterparts in the EU to fulfill the ethanol demanded by their biofuels policy and environment- and price-conscious consumers,” he says.

“Removal of these duties, [mean] consumers in the EU will once again have unfettered access to clean, affordable, renewable fuels,” adds Renewable Fuels Association president and chief executive officer Geoff Cooper.

EUROPEAN BIOFUELS INDUSTRY AT RISK

EU ethanol interest group ePURE believes the commission’s decision puts Europe’s biofuels industry at risk.

In a statement, the group said: “The EU’s decision to repeal antidumping duties on fuel ethanol imports originating in the United States risks having serious consequences for the entire value chain of the European renewable ethanol industry.

“The decision comes at a time when other key U.S. export markets, including Brazil, China, Peru and Colombia, have introduced or are considering measures to protect themselves from unfair U.S. ethanol exports. This increases the risk that U.S. exporters [will] divert exports previously targeting these countries to the EU. Europe’s renewable ethanol producers are already under pressure from misguided biofuel and agricultural policy decisions; now is not the time to subject them to unfair trade practices.”

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Todd Neeley