For some time, the European biodiesel value chain has been urging the European Commission to impose provisional countervailing import duties on "unfair" biodiesel imports from Argentina before the legal deadline of October 31. An official hearing was held with DG Trade on October 18 with a large number of representatives of the EU biodiesel industry that met with Commission officials to express their grave concerns and push for immediate implementation of provisional duties.
The European Biodiesel Board (EBB), European Vegetable Oil and Proteinmeal Industry (FEDIOL), European Oilseed Alliance (EOA) and European Farmers and European Agri-Cooperative (Copa and Cogeca) have expressed grave concerns over the “inexplicable reluctance” of EU authorities to “defend the legitimate” interests of the EU biodiesel sector against “massive amounts of unfair imports” from Argentina.
According to the biodiesel stakeholders, provisional duties now and, ultimately, definitive duties will be vital for the future of the EU biodiesel industry and production chain, including EU agriculture. Trade flows from Argentina reached an all-time high in July and August this year, despite a registration of all imports had been imposed since June, imports reached 241 000 tonnes in July, which represents 25 percent of the entire EU biodiesel market in that month.
Over the last 12 months, subsidized Argentine biodiesel imports into the EU, represented a total of 1 622.000 tonnes, being sold often at prices below the actual raw material costs and hence, affecting heavily EU producer’s profitability.
Following its investigation that started in January this year, the Commission clearly found that Argentinean exporters are strongly subsidised and are threatening to cause significant damage to the entire EU biodiesel sector. The damage that has already begun to materialise, posing major risks for industry, jobs and farmers revenues.
The bodies point out that all the conditions are met for the Commission to swiftly impose a 30 percent provisional countervailing duty on Argentinean imports. However, with no clear explanation given – not at the hearing either – the Commission seems to be still unwilling to impose such provisional duties.
We made clear again with the Commission that there is no reason not to impose provisional duties and that duties are absolutely needed to defend our EU industry from unfair imports coming from Argentina. As a matter of principle, if all conditions are met, as in this case, the Commission should impose such measures. This request is coming not only from the EU industry but also from EU farmers and from a large number of EU Members States that are urging the Commission to act, commented Kristell Guizouarn, President of EBB.
Guizouarn also said that if no provisional duties are imposed, it will be impossible for the EU to levy retroactive duties on the “extraordinary surge of unfair imports” from Argentina which occurred in the last months. EBB urges the Commission to act as soon as possible in this case “considering, without any naivety, the gravity” of the Argentinean practices over the last months.