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Dumping complaint threatens Argentina’s biodiesel exports

BUENOS AIRES: Argentina’s biodiesel exports could be devastated if the US government imposed anti-dumping duties on the country based on a complaint by the US National Biodiesel Board (NBB), the heads of two local industry chambers said.
The board last week asked the US government to impose anti-dumping duties on imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia after two years of tension between the US and foreign producers over soaring imports.
“If a sanction is applied against Argentina in the US market, our exports will no longer be viable. At this point, there is no alternative market,” Claudio Molina, executive director of the Argentine Biofuels Association said on Friday in an interview.
The US is Argentina’s No.1 biodiesel export market and US sanctions would hit large exporters such as Cargill, Bunge, Louis Dreyfus and COFCO Agri, part of China’s state-run COFCO Group
Argentine biodiesel exports to its previous No. 1 client, the EU, were suspended due to complaints and counter claims pending before the World Trade Organization (WTO). Peru, another buyer of Argentine biodiesel, has also placed tariffs on Argentine biodiesel based on dumping complaints.
The Argentine market, where biodiesel is mixed with diesel fuel, is not nearly big enough to absorb the excess should exports to the US be blocked. Of the 1.6 million tons of biodiesel that Argentina exported in 2016, 90 percent went to the US, according to Energy Ministry data.
A hearing will be held in the US next month to evaluate the NBB’s request, Molina said
Argentina taxes biodiesel at a variable rate, at 6 percent this month. But producers pay significantly less for soy oil, the main ingredient of biodiesel, than international competitors because they do not have to pay a 27 percent tax on exports. Local industry representatives say Argentina has an added advantage because its soy fields and crushing plants are located near the country’s ports.
“We have much more access to raw materials and we are more oriented toward exporting than the US is,” said Victor Castro, executive director of the Argentine Biofuels Chamber (ABC).
“The system (for resolving dumping complaints) is so bureaucratic and it takes so long that it can leave you out of the market for years without a ruling,” Castro added.
The WTO ruled last year in favor of several claims by Argentina against anti-dumping duties imposed by the EU but the adjudication continues and the duties remain.

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