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EU mulls US biodiesel dumping duties

  A key EU trade panel will be asked by the bloc’s executive on Tuesday to back anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on imports of biodiesel from the United States, which are irritating trade relations with Washington.

The European Commission, which oversees trade for the 27-nation bloc, will propose duties on US firms ranging from €26 ($32.74) to €41 per 100 kg, according to a draft seen by Reuters. Under the proposal archer Daniels Midland will face duties of €26 per 100 kg, CargilL €27 per 100 kg, Imperium Renewables €29 per 100 kg, GreeN Earth Energy Fuels 28 per 100 kg and World Energy Alternatives 29 per 100 kg.

Peter Cremer North America and most other US biodiesel companies exporting to Europe will pay €41 per 100 kg if the EU’s anti-dumping committee of 27 national trade diplomats rubber-stamp the proposal.

The duties would begin March 13 and remain in place for up to six months when the Commission must then decide whether to propose “definitive” duties which normally last for five years. Definitive duties must be approved by EU governments before coming into force.

Brussels began a probe into imports of US biodiesel last year following a complaint from EU producers of biodiesel -- by far the main biofuel produced in Europe -- who said they were being hammered by US subsidies that they said distorted the growing international trade in plant-based fuels.

Imports from the United States into Europe are larger than from any other country and increased from about 7,000 tons in 2005 to more than 1.5 million tons last year.

But the US government under George Bush and US biodiesel industry said the European complaint is a “protectionist ploy.” EU producers are particularly unhappy with subsidies for so-called B99 -- biodiesel with small amounts of mineral diesel -- that were distorting global trade rules.

They say exporters in the United States are involved in what they describe as “splash and dash” whereby they import cheaper biodiesel from countries such as Brazil and add less than five percent of US mineral diesel so they can pick up the subsidy from Washington before exporting to Europe.

The EU has long encouraged the production of so-called “green” biofuels -- once hailed as a way of reducing the world’s reliance on crude oil and slowing climate change. But many scientists and environmental groups contend that their production has contributed to food price inflation, depleted rainforests and failed to save substantial greenhouse gas emissions. (Reuters)