Following an expiry review, the European Commission has decided to repeal the antidumping measures against imports of bioethanol from the USA.
However, the decision has triggered the reaction of the EU ethanol industry, which warns about severe economic and climate implications.
European Commission sources told EURACTIV that there is no legal basis for continuing the anti-dumping duties, which have been in place since February 2013.
“The review investigation found that there is no likelihood that US bioethanol producers would resume dumping practices on the EU market if the measures are lifted,” the Commission sources said.
The EU ethanol industry opposed the EU executive’s decision, saying that it comes at a time when other key US export markets, including Brazil, China, Peru and Colombia, have “introduced or are considering measures to protect themselves from unfair US ethanol exports”.
“This increases the risk that US exporters divert exports previously targeting these countries to the EU. Europe’s renewable ethanol producers are already under pressure from misguided biofuel and agricultural policy decisions; now is not the time to subject them to unfair trade practices,” the European Renewable Ethanol Association (ePURE) said in a statement.
Sources close to the issue told EURACTIV that during the investigation period of the expiry review, there were hardly any imports from the USA (0.1%) and very limited volumes of imports from other countries.
“In the current absence of US dumping, the lack of US spare capacity as well as the price level in the Union, there does not seem to be a genuine risk that the expiry of the measures would cause a threat to Union industry,” the same sources added.
The ethanol association warned that the Commission’s decision would also affect the EU’s climate ambitions by favouring US ethanol, which is “more carbon-intensive than European ethanol”.
ePURE also said the EU farmers, already under pressure due to cuts in the EU’s agriculture budget, will be negatively affected by this move.
“The US has in parallel increased its support for the agricultural sector through the updated five-year Farm Bill that enhances the commodity programmes and crop insurance tools for US farmers,” ePURE said.
The EU farmers have strongly criticised the EU executive for its biofuel policy, especially during the review of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), in which the Commission proposed a complete phase-out of first-generation biofuels including ethanol.
The farmers said the executive had mistakenly disregarded the animal feed angle of biofuel production and they raised the alarm of increased GM animal feed imports from the US as a result.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]