EC launches new probe of US biodiesel imports - trade group

12 August 2010 20:26  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The European Commission (EC) on Thursday began a probe into allegations that US biodiesel was being exported to Europe in circumvention of anti-dumping restrictions, the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) said.

The investigation was based upon a new complaint by the EBB that US biodiesel was being exported to Europe via third countries, with Canada and Singapore highlighted, the EBB said.

The investigation follows the March 2009 imposition of five-year anti-dumping and countervailing measures on US biodiesel imports.

The EU duties were imposed upon US biodiesel (B99 grade) on the back of investigations by the EC that cheap imports from the US were injuring European biodiesel producers.

“Soon after March 2009, new patterns in the transatlantic biodiesel trade emerged, with US biodiesel being increasingly exported to the EU via third countries, in particular Canada and Singapore, in order to fraudulently conceal its US origin,” the EBB said.

The EBB cited the seizure of a large amount of biodiesel in the port of Venice that was declared as of Canadian origin, "but its extremely low price signaled its likely US origin".

“In parallel, important volumes of US biodiesel are still being exported directly to the EU in the form of blends not covered by the EU duties [typically B19],” the EBB continued. “These practices do not reflect normal commercial practice but are a mere attempt to evade the anti-dumping and countervailing duties.”

Those "unacceptable trade practices" may represnt more than 100m ($129m) in unpaid import duties, the EBB said.

The US National Biodiesel Board (NBB) said it would work with the US government to ensure the current EC restrictions were not expanded.

“The NBB is disappointed that the European Biodiesel Board has opted to pursue this frivolous complaint, especially in he light of the larger shared challenges that confront both the American and European biodiesel industries,” the NBB said in a release.

The US biodiesel industry was estimated to be operating at about 10-15% of its production capacity, according to industry participants.

Of an estimated 176 biodiesel plants operating in 2008, most are now shuttered or closed due to the December 2009 expiration of a critical $1/gal federal blender tax credit.

($1 = €0.78)

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By: Judith Taylor
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