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US biodiesel stakeholders seek meeting with Commerce Secretary over Argentinian import duties

Houston — Leadership from the National Biodiesel Board and the American Soybean Association sent a letter dated September 30 requesting a meeting with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to discuss countervailing duties on Argentinian biodiesel imports.

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"When NBB's Fair Trade Coalition met with you on June 20, you generously offered to meet with the domestic biodiesel industry 'at any time.' However, since Commerce issued the preliminary results in the [Changed Circumstances Review] on July 9, our multiple requests to schedule a meeting with you have gone unanswered," the letter read. "We still hope that you can provide us the same courtesy that you provided to the representatives of the government of Argentina and meet with us."

The groups were critical of Ross, who they believe has not adequately taken their concerns into account following the release of the preliminary conclusion.

"While US soybean farmers continue to experience reduced demand and lower prices as a result of trade disruptions to address unfair practices by China unrelated to soybean markets, it would be inconsistent and further damaging to relax measures addressing unfair practices by Argentina that harm US soybean oil demand," the letter read.

The Commerce Department published the Countervailing Duty and Antidumping Duty Orders on Argentinian Biodiesel in early 2018, before the Government of Argentina requested the body to initiate a Changed Circumstances Review of both orders in September 2018.

The Commerce Department claimed that the Argentinian government decided to put an export tax on soybeans, but not biodiesel, in 2016 to provide low-cost soybeans for downstream producers during a time of rising global soybean prices, which had the effect of distorting biodiesel markets.

The Changed Circumstances Review concluded that the export tax on soybeans is not being used strictly as a tool for downstream and value-added development, and that countervailing duties on Argentinian biodiesel producers would be virtually eliminated.

The preliminary conclusion was reached after finding convergence in export taxes for biodiesel and other downstream products, drawing the ire of the NBB and ASA.

"As you know, the countervailing duty rates established early in 2018 were needed to redress years of massive subsidies benefiting Argentina's biodiesel industry. The review of the duty rates must protect the US biodiesel industry and soybean farmers from any potential resumption of those subsidies and unfair trade practices," the letter read.

-- Jordan Young, jordan.young@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Kshitiz Goliya, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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