(Corrects measurement of Argentine and Indonesian biodiesel to
show a value, not a volume in paragraph 11)
By Michael Hirtzer and Chris Prentice
March 23 U.S. biodiesel producers on Thursday
asked the U.S. government to impose antidumping duties on
imports of biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia that it says
have flooded the U.S. market and violated trade agreements.
The move by the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) trade group
comes after two years of tension between U.S. and foreign
producers over soaring imports that the group says have
threatened the profitability of domestic producers.
"Our goal is to create a level playing field to give
markets, consumers and retailers access to the benefits of true
and fair competition," NBB Chief Executive Officer Donnell
Rehagen said in a statement.
The NBB filed its request with the U.S. Department of
Commerce and U.S. International Trade Commission on behalf of
U.S. biodiesel producers.
The Advanced Biofuels Association, a rival trade group, said
the allegations of illegal dumping were untrue. The group
includes Louis Dreyfus Co, which makes biodiesel in
Argentina, and Wilmar International Ltd, a maker of
biodiesel in Indonesia.
"The members of the Advanced Biofuels Association vehemently
oppose this action and expect these petitions' rejections,"
Michael McAdams, president of the group, said in a statement.
The NBB has sought to stymie imports since the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 allowed Argentine
biodiesel imports to qualify for U.S. tax credits as part of the
Renewable Fuel Standard.
Total U.S. imports rose to a record 916 million gallons (3.5
billion liters) in 2016, according to U.S. government data
published this week. Argentina represented about two-thirds of
U.S. foreign imports, followed by Indonesia and Canada.
Total U.S. demand is 2 billion gallons for the fuel, made
mostly from vegetable oils.
The NBB said biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia
rose 464 percent from 2014 to 2016 due to "illegal trade
activities," taking about 18 percent of the market.
The petition claims Argentine biodiesel is dumped at about
23 percent below market values and that Indonesian biodiesel is
sold around 34 percent below. Dumping is aimed at gaining market
Should the Commerce Department agree with these claims, it
would levy preliminary antidumping duties in these percentages
on the imported products. Any duties would need to be upheld by
the International Trade Commission and an affirmative ITC
decision would lock them in place for five years.
"In my local market, I have fuel blenders saying they can
get Argentina biodiesel at 30 cents (per gallon) less than I can
offer," said Zach Hamm, president of Triangle Biofuels
Industries in North Carolina. Hamm said he has slowed operations
at his 5 million gallon per year plant where he makes biodiesel
from recycled cooking oil.
A NBB spokeswoman said the petition was in the works prior
to the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has taken a
protectionist stance on business practices.
Argentina's biodiesel association Carbio rebuffed the
dumping accusations, saying the NBB used a definition of dumping
that had been rejected by the World Trade Organization.
Argentina's Production Ministry, which includes the
under-secretariat for international trade, noted that the
request came from the private sector.
"It doesn't mean the government will apply the measure,"
Gaston Sandler, a spokesman for the ministry said.
The U.S. Department of Commerce and Argentina's agriculture
and foreign ministries did not respond to requests for comment.
Futures for soyoil, used to make biodiesel, rose to a
2-1/2-week high on the Chicago Board of Trade as chatter about
the petition swirled, before settling 0.30 cent lower at 33.22
cents per pound. Futures for palm oil, used for
biodiesel production in Indonesia, fell about 2 percent to 2,771
ringgit, or $625.93 per tonne.
(Reporting by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago and Chris Prentice in
New York. Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington and
Luc Cohen in Buenos Aires; Editing by Marguerita Choy and