U.S. Producers Object to 20% Import Tariffs Imposed by Brazil Protest Comes month after Trump Intervened to Support Industry
by Mario Parker and Fabiana Batista (Bloomberg) … American ethanol producers said Thursday in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that they’re seeking Brazil’s suspension from a trade program allowing duty-free imports into the U.S. The move follows Brazil’s decision in August to slap a 20 percent tariff on ethanol shipments from the U.S. that exceed a 600 million-liter (158 million-gallon) annual quota.
The spat with Brazil also comes as the White House pursues a protectionist agenda in dealing with international trade. On Thursday, the Commerce Department set import duties on biodiesel from Indonesia and Argentina after U.S. producers said they were harmed by unfair state subsidies given to competitors in those countries.
The letter to Lighthizer was signed by three industry groups: The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy and the U.S. Grains Council.
Dinneen said the government has already signaled to Brazil there will be consequences for imposing the tariff. American ethanol exports to the country dropped 54 percent in August from January levels, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show.
The ethanol groups are threatening to petition for Brazil’s suspension designated country status under the Generalized System of Preferences trade program, which allows duty-free imports to promote economic growth in other countries. Brazil is the third-largest beneficiary under the program, with $2.2 billion of eligible trade in 2016, the groups said in their letter. Brazil’s tariff violates the “spirit” of the program, they said.
Brazil didn’t violate World Trade Organization rules, Eduardo Leao, executive director of Unica, a sugar and ethanol industry group, said in an interview Friday. The tariff is being levied only on the amount of ethanol that exceeds 600 million liters, which is the average amount of imports in the three years through 2016. READ MORE
Ethanol Industry Asks USTR to Suspend Brazil GSP Status (Energy.AgWired.com; includes AUDIO)
Ethanol, Agriculture Groups Press Lighthizer on Brazil Tariff (DTN The Progressive Farmer)
RENEWABLE FUELS GROUPS CALL FOR U.S. RETALIATION TO BRAZIL ETHANOL TARIFF (Brownfield Ag News)
RFA, Growth Energy, USGC urge suspension of Brazil’s GSP status (Ethanol Producer Magazine)