HOUSTON (ICIS)--Argentine biodiesel producers braced on Wednesday to halt exports to the US after the US Department of Commerce announced its preliminary decision to impose countervailing duties on biodiesel imported into the US from Argentina and Indonesia.
"Any duty of more than 15% leaves Argentine biodiesel out of the market," an Argentine biofuels industry source said.
The countervailing duties on soy-based Argentine biodiesel could be as much as 64.17%, the US Commerce Department said.
Duties of up to 68.28% will be imposed on palm oil biodiesel imports from Indonesia.
Argentina's biodiesel association Carbio said the decision to impose duties on imports from Argentina would result in the immediate suspension of exports to the US.
Carbio President Luis Zubizarreta denied there were subsidies on the country's biodiesel exports and called the duties protectionist.
US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross also determined that critical circumstances exist in both investigations, allowing for collection of duties for a retroactive period of 90 days prior to publication of the preliminary determination in the Federal Register.
The decision in comes after the US National Biodiesel Board (NBB) asked the US government in March to impose duties, saying the imports were below market value and undercutting US biodiesel producers.
“Biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia surged by 464% from 2014 to 2016, taking 18.3 percentage points of market share from US manufacturers,” The NBB said. “Imports of biodiesel from Argentina again jumped 144.5% following the filing of the petitions.”
Argentina accounts for two-thirds of US biodiesel imports, which totaled 916m gal (3.5bn litres) in 2016, the latest US Energy Information Administration (EIA) data showed.
Total US biodiesel consumption is about 2bn gal/year.
Renewable Energy Group (REG) a large US biodiesel producer and marketer praised the decision.
“The Commerce Department stood up for fairness for American biodiesel producers and leveling the playing field against imported biofuel that was unjustly subsidized,” REG said in a statement late Tuesday. “And with the critical circumstances finding against Argentina, the US government sent a strong signal that these trade practices should not continue as this case proceeds.”