EC leaves it late to trigger 15-month extension to US anti-dumping stance

23 Feb 2018 | Tim Worledge

The European Commission has signalled a review into anti-dumping measures that have been in place for five years targeting US ethanol imports in a measure that effectively defers a decision for another 15 months.

The move comes in response to a request from ePURE made in November 2017, based on concerns that the “expiry of the measures would be likely to result in the recurrence of dumping and recurrence of injury to the Union industry,” according to the EC’s official journal account.

The duties were introduced in 2013 and were due to expire on February 23, with the EC’s announcement made on February 20.

“If only a fraction of [US] volumes were to be diverted to the EU market, it would severely damage the EU industry, putting at risk the 50,000 direct and indirect jobs linked to renewable ethanol production in Europe,” said Emmanuel Desplechin, Secretary General of ePURE, the Brussels-based industry lobby group that made the request in November.

The European industry has been fighting a rearguard action, however, as the European Court of Justice annulled the 9.5% anti-dumping duty in 2016, before they were reinstated as the EU appealed against the decision.

US industry body, the Renewable Fuels Association, said it was "disappointed" by the news, with the RFA’s president Bob Dinneen accusing Europe of a "protectionist mindset" in an emailed statement to Energy Census.

The US is now the largest, most efficient producer of ethanol in the world, consistently producing a million barrels of ethanol per day and setting a new production record of 1.1 million barrels per day in December 2017.

But with that sort of production level, and with the bulk of US demand still focused on E10 a gasoline mix containing a maximum 10% ethanol, export markets are increasingly important if the industry is to expand.

For Europe, domestic ethanol production is divided across a number of EU nations and feedstocks, with the bulk coming from wheat-based production augmented by corn and sugar beet, with the bloc typically quick to shut down any potential leakage in its current stance on US ethanol imports.

In 2014, the European industry reacted to a potential loophole where US ethanol was imported into Norway, blended to an E48 petrol standard, and then imported into Europe before the EU deemed that this contravened the anti-dumping measures in place.