New Review of Argentina Biodiesel Policy Concerns Senators

Cindy Zimmerman

A bipartisan group of 14 Senators, led by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA), sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross this week regarding his agency’s recently launched “changed circumstances” review of U.S. duties on biodiesel imports from Argentina. The Senators are asking for the department to develop a complete record of Argentina’s biodiesel trade actions before determining whether revisiting the U.S. duties is warranted.

Early last year, the Commerce department issued countervailing duty and antidumping orders on imports of certain biodiesel products from Argentina after an extensive trade investigation. Then in December 2018, Commerce initiated “changed circumstances” reviews to assess Argentina’s most recent modification to its export tax regime and whether it warrants changing the antidumping and countervailing duty orders issued only months before.

“In the short period since the antidumping and countervailing duty orders were imposed, U.S. biodiesel producers have been able to compete on a more level playing field and the U.S. biodiesel industry has begun to recover from the injury caused by the unfair trade practices of the Argentine government and industry,” they continue.

Domestic biodiesel production increased by 17 percent or more in 2018 compared to 2017.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB) praised the senators for raising concerns with Secretary Ross. “Over the past two years, Argentina has made more than a dozen changes to its export tax rates and has continued to massively subsidize its biodiesel industry,” said Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs. “Given this history, Commerce should understand that Argentina is very likely to continue subsidizing its domestic biodiesel industry in the future. Commerce’s changed circumstances reviews must take into account a full record of Argentina’s actions since the closing of Commerce’s prior investigation.”