US Biodiesel Wants Duties on Imports

US Industry Asks for Swift Action as Imports of Argentine Biodiesel Spike

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Staff Reporter
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The U.S. biodiesel industry is asking for federal help to stop imports from Argentina. (DTN file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) -- The National Biodiesel Board asked the U.S. Department of Commerce on Monday to immediately slap duties on imports of Argentinian biodiesel, claiming in a petition that "critical circumstances" exist to warrant the action.

The provision of antidumping and countervailing duties laws allows duties and imports to be imposed before a preliminary determination is made on subsidies and dumping allegations previously made by the industry in the United States.

Back in April, the Department of Commerce initiated antidumping and countervailing duty investigations aimed at biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia in response to a petition filed by U.S. biodiesel industry interests.

The Department of Commerce is expected to announce its preliminary determinations regarding the estimated rates of subsidization and dumping on or about Aug. 22, 2017, and Oct. 20, 2017, respectively.

Since that filing, the NBB alleges, biodiesel imports from Argentina have increased by about 145%.

In the petition this week, the NBB essentially requested relief in the form of retroactive duties. The action is designed to deter further imports. 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.

"Our industry deserves relief," Anne Steckel, vice president of federal affairs for NBB said in a statement. "The law provides a remedy for U.S. industries harmed by illegal trade practices of this nature, and so we are taking the appropriate steps to ensure these unlawful actions are addressed. Our producers should not continue to be pushed aside by increased volumes of subsidized and dumped imports."

To determine if critical circumstances exist, the Commerce Department is required to find that there are "massive" imports in a relatively short period of time, as well as other legal criteria including whether those imports benefitted from illegal subsidies.

In an NBB news release prior to the Fourth of July holiday, the group 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." It is expected some 75 million gallons of biodiesel from Argentina will be reaching U.S. ports.

"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."

Earlier this year, the NBB filed petitions with the Commerce Department and the U.S. International Trade Commission, which allege significant increases in subsidized and dumped biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia have injured U.S. producers.

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 Department of Commerce 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 International Trade 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.

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Todd Neeley