OMAHA (DTN) -- A continuing surge of biodiesel imports from Argentina into the United States since March has industry officials in the U.S. considering their legal options.
Back in April, the U.S. Department of Commerce initiated anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations aimed at biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia in response to a petition filed by U.S. biodiesel industry interests.
In a news release on Wednesday, the National Biodiesel Board said Argentina has continued to ramp up those exports despite the launching of the investigation.
Citing information from "a business intelligence company," the NBB said biodiesel exports from Argentina in April reached a five-month high, "all of which was shipped to the United States."
"Shipment-tracking information shows that significant volumes are expected in June," the NBB said. "These reports indicate much higher volumes than were seen in January through March, which ranged from 6 million to 23 million gallons (according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration).
According to the NBB, after the U.S. industry filed its petition, "Argentina substantially reduced its export taxes on biodiesel, and then lifted those taxes this month, contributing to the increase in shipments and exacerbating already challenging circumstances for U.S. producers."
Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for the NBB, said in a statement to DTN on behalf of the NBB Fair Trade Coalition, that the industry will consider all options in response.
"We've received information of potentially 75 million gallons of biodiesel flooding our ports soon; a significant increase from the import levels we saw in January, February and March," she said.
"We filed the petition to level the playing field for U.S. producers and the NBB Fair Trade Coalition will use every legal tool available to address these unfairly traded imports."
The NBB said it may make a request with federal officials for what is called a finding of critical circumstances. That would allow the government to impose duties retroactively on imports reaching U.S. shores up to 90 days prior to the department of commerce's preliminary determinations on the claims in the petitions.
It is expected that the DOC will announce preliminary determinations on estimated rates of subsidization and dumping by this summer and fall.
As part of the investigation, U.S. biodiesel industry representatives gave testimony to the department's International Trade Commission this spring, making a case that biodiesel produced in Argentina and Indonesia has been flooding the United States market since 2014.
The allegations are that the countries' subsidized biodiesel essentially nudged U.S. producers out of their home market.
In its notice of initiation, the Department of Commerce said based on information provided by the U.S. biodiesel industry, there is reason to believe that Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel companies were selling into the U.S. "at less-than-fair value." The DOC estimates Argentina's dumping margin could be as high as nearly 27% and Indonesia's at about 28% from 2014 to 2016.
In written comments to the commission, the Argentine government said the petition was based on "extremely limited" information and actually shows the U.S. industry was hardly harmed. Argentina makes the case that U.S. producers never made a claim that imported biodiesel actually hurt profits. In addition, the government argues U.S. producers alone were unable to fulfill the Renewable Fuel Standard volume requirements from 2014 to 2016.
The National Biodiesel Board said imports from Argentina and Indonesia increased by more than 460% from 2014 to 2016, gaining about 18% in U.S. market share during that time.
U.S. producers claim the two nations gained the market share illegally when the market expanded more than 58% in 2014 to 2016.
It isn't the first time Argentina and Indonesia have been challenged on their fuel export practices.
In May 2013, the European Commission announced provisional anti-dumping duties against those countries. Peru imposed both anti-dumping and countervailing duties on biodiesel from Argentina last year.
Todd Neeley can be reached at email@example.com
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