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US bioethanol blended in Norway to face EU tariff

06.04.2014  | 

The European Commission, the 28-nation EU’s trade authority, has decided to instruct customs officials across the bloc to apply the import tax to US bioethanol that has been blended with gasoline in Norway, said Andreas Guth, trade manager at Brussels-based organization ePure.

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By JONATHAN STEARNS
Bloomberg

The European Union will apply a tariff on US bioethanol to blends from Norway because American exporters used the Nordic country to evade the levy, said a group representing EU producers.

EPure said EU trade authorities agreed with its allegation that US exporters of bioethanol, a renewable energy for autos, shipped the fuel to the bloc via Norway to dodge the duty of 62.30 euros/ton ($84.87/ton). The organization said the bioethanol was blended with gasoline in Norway and then exported to the EU as a Norwegian chemical that faces no duty.

The European Commission, the 28-nation EU’s trade authority, has decided to instruct customs officials across the bloc to apply the import tax to US bioethanol that has been blended with gasoline in Norway, said Andreas Guth, trade manager at Brussels-based ePure.

“The sole aim of the processing operation in Norway was to avoid the duty,” Guth said today by phone. “The blended product, a mix of 52% gasoline and 48% bioethanol, has no use as a motor fuel in the EU. Before it can be used, it has to be further blended with gasoline,” he said.

The EU imposed the import tax for five years in February 2013 to punish US companies including Poet for allegedly selling bioethanol in the EU below cost, a practice known as dumping. The levy followed EU anti-dumping duties imposed in mid-2009 on imports from the US of biodiesel, another renewable energy for vehicles.

Dumped Imports

European bioethanol manufacturers including Crop Energies Bioethanol GmbH of Germany, Tereos BENP of France and Ensus of the UK, suffered “material injury” as a result of dumped imports from the US, the EU said when introducing the levy.

US ethanol producers that also include Marquis Energy, Patriot Renewable Fuels and Platinum Ethanol increased their combined share of the EU bioethanol market to 15.7% in the 12 months through September 2011 from 1.9% in 2008, the bloc said in February 2013.

The commission’s “clarification” that US bioethanol blended in Norway is of US origin amounts to a fast-track finding of circumvention, according to Guth. As a result, he said, ePure is scrapping a plan to request a circumvention inquiry, which would take as long as nine months.



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