Senators seek challenge to E.U. anti-dumping duty

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2013

A bipartisan group of senators this week called on the Obama administration to consider challenging a new E.U. anti-dumping tariff on ethanol imports from the United States.

The senators, all of whom are from agricultural states, alleged that the European Commission failed to find any evidence of dumping by ethanol producers before it approved the nearly 10 percent duty in February.

In a letter Monday to acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis and acting Commerce Secretary, Rebecca Blank, the senators said that the tariff further violates established international trade standards.

“We believe this rule sets dangerous precedent for trade and trade remedies in advance of the well-publicized start of important trade talks between the United States and the European Union,” the senators wrote, “and will dramatically and unilaterally change the boundaries and limits of international anti-dumping law.”

The duty imposed by the commission sets roughly a $83.03-per-metric-ton tariff on all ethanol coming into the European Union from the United States for the next five years. It followed accusations by Europe’s major ethanol trade group, ePURE, that E.U. producers were being undercut by U.S. imports (Greenwire, Feb. 18).

Led by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.), the 14 lawmakers said that the European Union had deviated from standard trade practices by assigning a countrywide duty, rather than punishing a particular group of bad actors, in response to the European ethanol industry’s complaints.

They have asked that the U.S. trade office and the Commerce Department “carefully evaluate” the duty and “consider submitting a challenge on behalf of the U.S. ethanol industry to the World Trade Organization regarding any aspect of the ruling that violates established and negotiated trade law standards and practices.”

In a joint statement yesterday, two major U.S. ethanol trade groups praised the senators for their request. The Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy have opposed any action against U.S. ethanol producers in response to the allegations of dumping.

“The EU’s recent actions are unprecedented,” the organizations said, “and we believe that the World Trade Organization (WTO) will nullify this blatantly protectionist country-wide anti-dumping duty on exports of ethanol from the United States.”

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, whose mission is to resolve international trade disputes, said it had procedural concerns with the European Commission’s investigation when the tariff was first being considered. The office has not indicated whether it would pursue action against the duty.