Argentine producers pledge to fight EU biodiesel duties


By Hugh Bronstein and Charlie Dunmore

BUENOS AIRES/BRUSSELS, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Argentinianbiodiesel producers will fight European Union proposals toimpose punitive duties on imports from the country, saying themove would remove its biggest export market and raise prices inEurope.

The European Commission has proposed duties of between 216and 245 euros ($330) per tonne on biodiesel imports fromArgentina, and of between 121 to 178 euro a tonne on importsfrom Indonesia, figures seen by Reuters showed.

The 28-nation bloc accuses producers in the two countries ofselling their product at unfairly low prices, harming Europeanproducers.

"We will seek to defend ourselves against this decision,which we consider unfair," Luis Zubizarreta, head of Argentinianbiofuel body CARBIO, told Reuters.

"Clearly, Argentina will not be able to export so much as alitre to Europe, and European biodiesel prices will rise. Wewill have to produce less biodiesel," he said.

If backed by EU governments at a vote later this month, theduties could be imposed by the end of November.

That in turn could prompt a legal challenge from Jakarta andBuenos Aires at the World Trade Organization, a source familiarwith the issue said.

Together, the two countries account for 90 percent of EUbiodiesel imports and more than a fifth of the bloc's annualconsumption.

Among the firms set to be hit by the duties areagri-business Bunge Ltd and Louis Dreyfus Commodities, which face duties of 216 and 239 euros per tonnesrespectively on their exports from Argentina.

A report by Buenos Aires-based consultants IES this weekshowed that Argentina's biodiesel production fell by 40 percentin the first eight months of 2013 from the same period lastyear, while exports fell nearly 60 percent in the sametimeframe.

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