February 12, 2019 / 11:42 AM / 6 months ago

EU exempts eight Argentine biodiesel producers from duties

BRUSSELS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Eight Argentine biodiesel producers will be allowed to export to the European Union without paying duties as long as they sell at a set minimum price, the EU’s Official Journal said on Tuesday.

Argentina and the European Union agreed last month to end a dispute over biodiesel exports from the South American country to the bloc. Argentina is the world’s top producer of soyoil, the main ingredient used to make biodiesel.

The Commission, which coordinates trade policy for the 28-member EU, found Argentine producers benefited from an unfair subsidy and will impose duties ranging from 25 to 33.4 percent, but with exemptions for companies agreeing to a minimum price.

The companies that have signed up are Aceitera General Deheza, Bunge Argentina, LDC Argentina, Molinos Agro, Oleaginosa Moreno Hermanos, Vicentin, Cargill and COFCO International Argentina.

The Commission began investigating Argentine, as well as Indonesian, biodiesel imports in 2012 following a request by EU producers of fuels made from vegetable and recycled oil.

The EU case was based on export duties both countries impose on the raw material, soybeans for Argentina and palm oil for Indonesia. The EU view was that this gave an unfair advantage to biodiesel producers there, allowing them to sell at unfairly low prices.

It imposed anti-dumping duties in 2013, but then had to remove most in March 2018 after successful challenges at the World Trade Organization and the European Court of Justice.

The scheme with a minimum price would mirror that used to allow Chinese solar panel producers to export to the bloc after a major dispute over alleged dumping that threatened to spiral into a trade war.

Under its plan, the Commission said the annual level of imports would be around 10 percent of average EU consumption per year from 2014 to 2017.

The price would be linked to the average monthly soybean price quotations published by Argentina’s agriculture ministry, which reflect the inclusion of the export tax. These quotations are based on closing prices on the Chicago Board of Trade.

The duties and the minimum price scheme will take effect from Wednesday, the EU’s official journal said. (Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by David Evans)

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