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Argentina upbeat on prospects of regaining entrance to US biodiesel market


Argentine oilseeds processors are optimistic on prospects for regaining entry to the US for their biodiesel, even if a legal challenge against penal antidumping duties does not go their way.


Gustavo Idigoras, chairman of Ciara, the Argentine oil industry chamber, said that the US Court of International Trade was due by September to rule on a case brought by the South American country against tariffs on its biodiesel exports to the US imposed by Washington late in 2017.


And he was upbeat on the potential for Argentina reopening trade which was, ahead of the duties, worth some $1.5bn, equivalent to about one-quarter by value of the country’s exports to the US.


“Probably next year, we can have some good news regarding the US,” Mr Idigoras told the International Grains Council conference in London.


Deal option

He acknowledged to Agrimoney, on the sidelines of the conference, that the court ruling on its own could prove insufficient to reopen the US to Argentina’s biodiesel exports.


It was “possible” that the court may, while supporting the country’s case, “may not reduce the tariffs by enough to let our exports back in”, leaving them still uncompetitive.


However, he proposed that Argentina could nonetheless strike a deal with the US allowing a quota for biodiesel shipments, similar to that sealed with the European Union.


Argentina has, after taking to the World Trade Organization antidumping duties imposed by the European Union, agreed a 1.2m-tonne export quota to the bloc, above which tariffs of 30% apply.


‘Bilateral negotiations’

Mr Idigoras said that a similar deal with the US would “likely be unpopular with US biodiesel groups making large margins” on their production of the biofuel, which is made from vegetable oils – typically soyoil in the Americas, as by far the biggest soybean-growing region.


However, “bilateral negotiations in other areas are going so well, we might” be able to spread accord to encompass a biodiesel agreement, he told Agrimoney.


Separately, Dr Mark Jekanowski, deputy chair at the US Department of Agriculture’s World Agricultural Outlook Board, told the conference that US biodiesel production margins had been swollen to about $2.0 per gallon by the dent to domestic soybean prices from a strong harvest last year, and reduced exports to China.


He also said that a court ruling on the Argentine biodiesel duties case was due in late August/early September.

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