Argentina-EU SME flows unlikely to equal 2013: Carbio
London, 28 September (Argus) — Rising Argentinian biodiesel exports are unlikely to match that of 2013 when EU anti-dumping duties were imposed, Argentina's biodiesel producers' association Carbio president Luis Zubizarreta told Argus.
Some 200,000t of soy methyl ester (SME) from Argentina is set to arrive in Europe by October, likely spot business. Carbio said it was unaware of any term supply agreements between Argentinian producers and European traders. "The volumes will depend upon market situation and prices in Europe," Zubizarreta said.
He did not speculate on how much exports will reach Europe next year, but said duties of up to 15pc levied on Argentine biodiesel means shipments are unlikely to reach those prior to 2013 when the anti-dumping duties kicked in. "We wish to supply sustainable biodiesel for European consumers at the best quality and prices but we are forced to reduce such opportunity due to this protectionism measures," he said.
Argentinian producers have suffered mixed fortunes this year. The United States announced in August it would impose anti-dumping duties on Argentinian soy methyl ester (SME). The US has been Argentina's top export destination, accounting for around 1.45mn t in 2016, according to the US department of Commerce.
But shortly after, in September, the EU voted to cut anti-dumping tariffs against Argentinian biodiesel set in November 2013 at 22-25.7pc. The re-opening of the EU market — the most important market for Argentina prior to 2013 — will prove a life line for the industry and ease the pressure brought about by the imminent closure of the US market, even though there will remain idle capacity as the result of the US decision.
But Argentinian biodiesel producers looking forward to unimpeded exports to Europe still have a fight on their hands. Having lost its battle to stop anti-dumping duties being lifted on Argentinian biodiesel on 7 September, the European Biodiesel Board (EBB) has yesterday called for a "fast-track imposition" of anti-subsidy duties against Argentine biodiesel exports to Europe.
But Zubizarreta refutes the notion of subsidy or dumping practices. "Argentina did not use any unfair practices. The biodiesel industry has no subsidies for exports and never has applied dumping practices. We are a large scale industry, highly efficient and environmentally friendly and we just want to provide our good quality product to European consumers at a fair and competitive price," he said.
"We must pay attention to domestic subsidies that European farmers are getting for their crops and also to the importance for developing countries to process locally their raw materials in order to catch part of the processing added value that EU producers want to keep exclusively for themselves," Zubizarreta added.
Although the European biofuels market has shifted during Argentina's four-year absence, turning away from crop-based fuels to waste-derived biofuels and high greenhouse gas savings (GHG) products, producers in the country believe they still have a role to play, despite being a vegetable oil based industry.
"We are involved in a process of continual improvement in order to take advantages of the big Argentina capacity to generate biomass and turn it into bioenergy in a sustainable way. The soybean industry in Argentina produces soymeal to feed the EU meat industry so our goal is to provide food, feed and bioenergy," Zubizarreta said.
He said: "Any amendment to be introduced by the EU should pay attention to a positive synergy between raw crops, feed, food and bio energies as a complement of food production. Argentina will be one of Europe's major supplier and partner". With some SME having GHG savings of a minimum of 60pc to around 70pc, Zubizarreta said Argentina's biodiesel industry is contributing to the battle against climate change.
"We expect European authorities will not follow lobbyist pressure in order to build additional unfair trade barriers against our product. We have complete trust in European authorities' good judgement and fair decisions on this topic," he added.
But the WTO is likely to decide in favour of cutting anti-dumping duties on Indonesian palm methyl ester (PME). If that happens, Argentinian producers will find themselves facing increased pressure, although Carbio said its members were "open to competition." Our goal is to give the consumer the final decision and to avoid protectionist measures that distort markets," Zubizarreta said.