EU moves forward with investigation into US trade practices

By Holly Jessen | November 29, 2011

As requested by ePURE, the European Producers Union of Renewable Ethanol, the European Commission has launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation in response to dramatic increases in imports of U.S. ethanol.

The formal decision was made Nov. 25, said Rob Vierhout, secretary general of ePURE. That starts the clock ticking for both investigations, leaving 15 months for the anti-dumping investigation and 13 months for the anti-subsidy investigation. After nine months, the EU can impose provisional measures, such as raising tariffs. “Tariffs will only be raised if the European Commission finds enough evidence for it,” he tells EPM. “That is why a nine-month period of investigation is needed. You may understand that the European Commission wants to check what the EU producers are saying.”

China announced an anti-dumping investigation into U.S. DDGS at the end of 2010. In just three years, U.S. exports to China went from zero to a whopping 3.1 million metric tons. That put the country on the top of the list of export destinations, followed by Mexico and Canada.

In other news, a draft regulation approved in October by the European Union’s Customs Code Committee (CCC) has not yet become law. If approved, the law would clarify a customs procedural issue by classifying E90, any blend of 70 percent ethanol or more and 30 percent gasoline or less, as denatured ethanol. This would prevent E90 from being imported into some countries at a lower import duty because it was being classified as a chemical. To become law the 13 member states must not block the proposal, however, the customs law doesn’t require that the member states vote in favor of the law, Vierhout said. Although the member states didn’t support the proposal that wasn’t enough to stop the process and it is still moving forward. “If there is not a clear support for the measure the European Commission can decide whether it wants to publish the act or not,” he said. “If the Commission decides to publish it, there will be a provision in the act that says that the CCC did not have an opinion on the matter.”