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European biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia increase sharply

After the European Union (EU) anti-dumping tariffs on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia were suspended, exports to the EU increased sharply. The volume of biodiesel imports from both countries in 2018 alone multiplied according to new data from Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI). Over half of the Argentine biodiesel production is exported, which, says Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen (UFOP), is the result of the government's policy of differentiated export tariffs.

Whereas biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia only played a secondary role in previous years, things have changed profoundly since October 2017. In previous years, biodiesel from Malaysia accounted for the biggest share of imports. Supplying countries also included India, China, Norway, and Hong Kong (graphic courtesy UFOP).

Whereas biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia only played a secondary role in previous years, things have changed profoundly since October 2017. In previous years, biodiesel from Malaysia accounted for the biggest share of imports. Supplying countries also included India, China, Norway, and Hong Kong.

After the Argentine biodiesel industry had successfully taken action before the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the punitive tariffs imposed by the EU Commission, the latter had to abolish the additional duties. As a result, biodiesel exports from Argentina soared.

According to data from Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft (AMI), more than half of Argentine biodiesel production goes into exports. This is, says Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen (UFOP), the result of the Argentine government’s policy of differentiated export tariffs (DET’s), a policy that is being criticised by the European biodiesel industry.

Biodiesel imports almost triple

The EU-28 is increasingly meeting its demand with biodiesel imports despite that the Community is the world’s biggest producer of biodiesel – an output of 13 million tonnes including HVO but, in the absence of marketing possibilities, production capacities have not been fully used for many years now.

In 2018, a total of 3.3 million tonnes of biodiesel was imported from third countries. This was almost three times more than a year earlier. The main recipients of biodiesel from overseas are the Netherlands, Spain, and Belgium because of the large storage capacities at their ports. From there, the commodity is transported on to other EU countries.

In view of the tremendous increase in imports from Argentina and the agreement on handling subsidised imports from Argentina that was recently concluded between the EU and Argentina, the Union zur Förderung von Oel- und Proteinpflanzen (UFOP) has said it is disappointed over the EU Commission’s attitude and that the Commission is insufficiently committed to protecting European production of biodiesel and rapeseed.

In fact, the association fears that in the case of Indonesia the pending proceedings will result in another trade-based compromise. The reason is that the EU has launched an initiative for resuming negotiations with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

The EU must have something to offer to raise interest. In 2019, Thailand took over the Presidency of the Asian bloc, of which Indonesia is a member alongside Malaysia.

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