U.S. ethanol groups protest proposed E.U. anti-dumping duty

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Sunday, December 9, 2012

U.S. ethanol groups say they’re “troubled” by a proposal yesterday from the European Commission that would set an almost 10 percent tariff on ethanol imports.

The proposed duty is the first movement toward conclusion of an ongoing investigation by the commission over charges that the U.S. industry has dumped too much ethanol into the European market. The proposal, which the commission recommended to European Union member states yesterday, would set a 9.6 percent anti-dumping duty on U.S. ethanol imports.

In a joint statement, the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy said they continue to cooperate with the commission’s investigation but expressed concerns about the proposal.

“We remain convinced that if all the facts are considered, the European Union will decide not to impose any anti-dumping duties on imports of ethanol produced in the United States,” RFA and Growth Energy said.

The commission last year began the investigation on U.S. ethanol dumping after a petition by the major European ethanol trade group, the European Renewable Energy Association, or ePURE. In its petition, ePURE asked the commission to investigate both U.S. biofuel tax incentives and whether U.S. producers were flooding the European market with ethanol.

“Massive and sudden imports of U.S. ethanol, combined with unfairly low prices over the last few years, have seriously damaged the economic situation of European producers,” ePURE Secretary-General Rob Vierhout said at the time. “This situation is all the more critical as the market prospect for fuel ethanol in Europe is very bright.”

The commission decided not to take measures against the United States over its incentives, citing the expiration of the 45-cent-per-gallon blenders tax credit at the end of last year. In August of this year, the commission did, however, require the registration of all U.S. ethanol imports as a way to retroactively apply a trade damage charge should the tax credit be reinstated.

The commission has been investigating the dumping case since November 2011, when ePURE first filed the petition. The new proposal, issued in the form of a “general disclosure document” that has not been made public, represents the culmination of those investigations.

A panel within the European Commission that deals with trade cases is expected to meet soon about the proposal.

U.S. fuel ethanol exports to European Union member states rose sharply from about 30 million gallons in 2010 to about 70 million gallons in 2011, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. During that time, though, Brazil greatly decreased its ethanol exports to the European Union because of a poor sugar harvest.