The National Biodiesel Board on Tuesday filed comments with the European Commission challenging "unfair" trade duties that they say have blocked U.S. biodiesel from being exported to Europe since 2009.
The duties are scheduled to expire this year, though the Commission is currently conducting an "expiry review" over whether to reinstate them at the request of European industry. The review is expected to last 12 to 15 months, NBB said.
In its comments, NBB asked the Commission to allow the expiration to continue, citing evidence that the market for biodiesel has changed since the duties were enacted.
NBB says continuing the duties would be "protectionist and unnecessary." According to NBB, European biodiesel producers are able to sell biodiesel in both Europe and the United States without duties or limitation, and can freely participate in U.S. policies such as the Renewable Fuel Standard and the U.S. biodiesel tax incentive.
"We have presented a strong case for ending these protectionist barriers that are unfairly hurting U.S. biodiesel producers even as European producers are taking advantage of the U.S. market," said Anne Steckel, NBB's vice president of federal affairs. "As we speak, European biodiesel producers are sending biodiesel to the U.S., with significant policy support, while at the same time the European market has been cut off from U.S. producers."
Steckel said bottom line is that the biodiesel trade has changed between 2009 and 2014. At the time, the U.S. industry was just getting off the ground, she said, and eliminating the duties will level the playing field for American producers.
In its comments, NBB also says that a policy that was the basis for EU's initial trade duties, the U.S. biodiesel tax incentive, is currently not in effect and hasn't been in effect for three of the past five years.
Because it is structured as a blender's incentive, NBB said, the tax incentive is available to European producers, when it is in effect, in the same way it is available to U.S. producers.
NBB also noted that there is a strong market for biodiesel in the U.S., so if the trade duties are eliminated, it is unlikely that there would be a flood of U.S. biodiesel exports to Europe.