National Biodiesel Board challenges barriers to trade with EU

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2014 -- The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) has filed comments with the European Commission challenging what it calls unfair trade duties that have blocked U.S. biodiesel exports to Europe since July 2009.

NBB urged the EC to allow duties on U.S. biodiesel imports to expire this year as scheduled, citing what it “overwhelming evidence” that global trade for biodiesel has changed dramatically since the duties were imposed and that continuing the duties is protectionist and unnecessary.

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NBB also emphasized that European biodiesel producers can sell biodiesel in both Europe and the U.S. without duties or limitation and participate freely in U.S. policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and a U.S. biodiesel tax incentive. The NBB says that at the least, U.S. producers should be able to participate in the European market without having to pay punitive duties.

“We have presented a strong case for ending these protectionist barriers that are unfairly hurting U.S. biodiesel producers even as European producers are taking advantage of the U.S. market,” Anne Steckel, the NBB's vice president of federal affairs. “As we speak, European biodiesel producers are sending biodiesel to the U.S., with significant policy support, while at the same time the European market has been cut off from U.S. producers.”

“The bottom line is that biodiesel trade is dramatically different in 2014 than it was in 2009 when the U.S. industry was just getting off the ground,” Steckel says. “Eliminating these duties will level the playing field and allow U.S. producers to fairly compete in accordance with international law - just as we are allowing European producers to do in the U.S. market.”

The Commission is currently conducting an “expiry review,” expected to last 12 to 15 months, on whether to continue the duties, at the request of European industry.

NBB's filing points out that:

·         U.S. imports of biodiesel from the EU have grown in recent years while EU imports of U.S. biodiesel have been virtually eliminated.

·         The U.S. biodiesel tax incentive, the primary basis for the EU's initial trade duties, is not in effect now and hasn't been for three of the past five years.

·         When the U.S. incentive is in effect, because it is structured as a blender's incentive, it is available to European producers in the same way it is available to U.S. producers. European imports to the U.S. also can qualify for the RFS, the policy that requires specific volumes of renewable fuels to be blended into the U.S. fuel supply.

·         The U.S. biodiesel market has evolved significantly since 2009. With required volumes under the RFS creating a strong and growing domestic market, it is unlikely eliminating the trade barriers would lead to a flood of U.S. biodiesel exports to Europe.

·         Biodiesel - made from a variety of resources including soybean oil, recycled cooking oil and animal fats - is the first EPA-designated Advanced Biofuel to reach commercial-scale production nationwide. With plants in nearly every state in the country, the industry had a record U.S. market last year of nearly 1.8 billion gallons.

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