Indonesia says US biodiesel decision kills chance of fair trade

The decision allows US biodiesel producers to receive relief from the market-distorting effects of foreign producers dumping into its domestic market. (Reuters)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Indonesia says US biodiesel decision kills chance of fair trade

JAKARTA: The US’ recent decision to add anti-dumping duties on biodiesel from Indonesia is preventing Indonesia’s exporters from trading in the US market, Pradnyawati, director of trade security at Indonesia’s Trade Ministry, told Arab News.
Combined rates of up to 341 percent “make it impossible for Indonesia to compete in the US market,” she said.
Pradnyawati added the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties decisions against Indonesian biodiesel together represent “a clear abuse of the trade remedy laws” and the Indonesian government will take necessary measures to counteract mistreatment of its important industries.
“We will rely on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to ensure the US abides by its obligations and that Indonesia’s right to a fair international trading system is protected,” she said.
Indonesia’s Trade Ministry said the US Department of Commerce applied methodologies inconsistent with WTO rules on its final determinations in the anti-dumping duties investigations of biodiesel imports from Indonesia.
After the Feb. 21 announcement, Indonesian biodiesel exporters will have to bear dumping duties at 92.52 to 276.65 percent, on top of 34.95 to 64.73 percent anti-subsidy duties announced in November 2017, which the ministry said were also determined using WTO-inconsistent methodologies.
“The US Department of Commerce’s use of the same methodology applied by the EU in these cases blatantly violates WTO law. Indonesia intends to challenge the USDOC decision at the WTO accordingly,” Pradnyawati said.
In January, Indonesia won its argument to defend its commodity against the EU’s 2013 decision to impose 8.8 to 23.3 percent dumping margin on its biodiesel at the WTO.
Indonesian Biodiesel Producers Association chairman Paulus Tjakrawan said the penalties have made local producers halt their exports to the US. He told Arab News it was unfounded for the US to allege that biodiesel exporters in Indonesia were profiting from government subsidy.
“We are very disappointed with the allegation and the exorbitant import duties,” he said, adding that Indonesian biodiesel companies and the government are challenging the anti-dumping penalties at the US Court of International Trade in New York.
According to Trade Map statistics, biodiesel import from Indonesia in the US was valued at $268 million in 2016 but has plummeted by 99.97 percent to $71,000 as of the third quarter of 2017 since the penalties were initiated.
The Commerce Department said in the Feb. 21 statement that it decided Indonesian exporters have sold biodiesel at 92.52 to 276.65 percent less than fair value in the US. The decision will result in Indonesian exporters having to pay cash deposits based on those rates to the US Customs and Border Protection.
US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the department’s decision allows US biodiesel producers to receive relief from the market-distorting effects of foreign producers dumping into its domestic market.
Ross also said that while the US values its relationship with Indonesia and Argentina — which is also slapped with anti-dumping duties at 60.44 to 86.41 percent — the two countries he described as the US’ “closest friends” must play by the rules.


Pakistan and China push for peace in Afghanistan

Updated 15 December 2018
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Pakistan and China push for peace in Afghanistan

  • Trilateral talks also focused on boosting trust and security between the three countries
  • FM Qureshi extends the olive branch for a new chapter with Kabul

KABUL: Foreign Ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China held a trilateral meeting in Kabul on Saturday where they discussed measures to boost political trust and join hands for a regional war against militancy which would facilitate the Afghan peace process, even as Taliban insurgents stepped up their attacks.

The meeting was the second one to take place after Beijing had initiated the talks in December last year in order to ease the rising tension between Kabul and Islamabad whose relationship is highly critical for Beijing’s growing economic and political clout in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In recent years, China has deepened its economic and political ties with Afghanistan and is actively using its influence to bring the two South Asian neighbors closer.

Pakistan has long been accused by Afghanistan and the US of providing safe havens for Afghan Taliban leaders, by funding and arming them since their ouster in late 2001.

Islamabad has denied the allegations.

After the meeting on Saturday, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi pushed for a new chapter with Afghanistan, adding that the ongoing blame game would not help in achieving peace or building trust between Islamabad and Kabul.

He said that the Daesh and militants from Central Asia and eastern China were against the peace process in Afghanistan, urging for joint efforts to tackle the extremism.

“I am here to engage with Afghanistan. Let us not stick to the past and stop pointing a finger on Pakistan… I came here to build trust and bridges and reach peace and stability. Any improvement in Afghanistan will benefit Pakistan,” Qureshi told a news conference.

The three countries signed an agreement pushing for joint efforts in the war against militancy with Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister, Salahuddin Rabbani, saying that the coming weeks and months will be highly crucial in evaluating Pakistan’s intentions and its role in supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

Officials from both Afghanistan and Pakistan have held a number of meetings in recent years to mend bilateral ties and work towards measures to fight militancy. However, those talks were an exercise in futility as they were followed by the two countries trading accusations and resorting to the blame game. Rabbani said that “the time has come (for Pakistan) to practically show with genuine steps” that it will fulfill its pledges.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi described both Afghanistan and Pakistan as its strategic partners, adding that China had great political trust in the two. He asked both the countries to resolve their problems in a peaceful manner and backed the US’ efforts to engage in peace talks with the Taliban, urging the militant group to get involved in the process. 

“We support Afghanistan and Pakistan’s efforts for peace and we call on the Taliban to join the peace process. Cooperation between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China is important to bring peace to Afghanistan.” 

The three sides emphasized the importance of regional connectivity and economic development between them. 

Saturday’s meeting took place at a time when Washington is stepping up its efforts to hold talks with the Taliban by meeting with regional powers on how to end the US war in Afghanistan which began more than 17 years ago.

Mohammad Nateqi, a former Afghan diplomat, said that a deciding factor for Saturday’s agreement to work depended on building mutual trust between Pakistan and Afghanistan given the fact that similar conversations have taken place between Kabul and Islamabad earlier as well, without bearing any fruit.

However, at the same time, he was optimistic about positive results, reasoning that the situation had changed when compared to the past with the US increasing its efforts for talks with the Taliban.

“Such meetings can be helpful in mending ties between the countries and in helping them come closer to achieving a peace plan,” he told Arab News.