U.S. sets final anti-subsidy duties on Argentine, Indonesian biodiesel

WASHINGTON/CHICAGO, Nov 9 (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Commerce on Thursday said it set final anti-subsidy duties on biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia.

The final duties for soy-based Argentine biodiesel were even higher than preliminary countervailing rates set in August, when imports ground to a virtual halt as Argentine exporters said the tariffs priced them out of the U.S. market.

Soy oil futures have risen on the restrictions on biodiesel imports because it is expected more soy oil will now be used domestically to make the fuel. The stronger soy oil price supports canola.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri said on Tuesday his government would appeal to the World Trade Organization if the Commerce Department followed through on threatened duties on biodiesel.

Argentine biofuel industry group Carbio said the decision confirmed the U.S. market was closed to Argentine producers and would complicate recent economic reforms in the South American nation.

The duties range from 71.45 percent to 72.28 percent on Argentine biodiesel, Commerce said in a statement, up from preliminary rates of 50.29 percent to 64.17 percent. Countries set countervailing duties to counteract the effect of other nations’ subsidies for certain goods.

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Final anti-subsidy rates for palm oil biodiesel from Indonesia were set at 34.45 percent to 64.73 percent, below the range of 41.06 percent to 68.28 percent set in August.

The duties follow proposed anti-dumping duties for both countries’ biodiesel announced in October.

U.S. biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia in 2016 were an estimated $1.2 billion and $268 million, respectively, department figures show.

“We appreciate that these unfair subsidies are being addressed, so we can fix this particular obstacle to continued growth in the domestic industry,” Doug Whitehead, chief operating officer of the U.S. National Biodiesel Board, a trade group that asked the government to impose the duties in March.

Biodiesel is used by itself or with petroleum-based diesel mainly as a motor fuel.

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Futures for soyoil, the most common feedstock used for U.S. biodiesel, hit a two-month high of 35.44 cents per pound. But prices reversed later, fell 0.23 cent closing at 35.14 cents.

“It was anticipated. It was built in and talked about,” a U.S. soyoil trader said of the announcement. Soyoil and soybean futures were pressured by a U.S. Department of Agriculture report that estimated a record-large U.S. soy crop.

For final duties to take effect, the U.S. International Trade Commission must find the imports cause harm to U.S. producers. It is scheduled to hold its final injury vote on subsidies on Dec. 5.

In the separate antidumping investigation, Commerce is expected to issue a final ruling in early January, followed by another injury determination by the ITC.

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