Spain Lifts Import Restrictions on Argentine Biofuels

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Spain’s Ministry of Industry has announced it will not implement the import restrictions on Argentine biofuels it put forward less than six months ago.

Spanish Industry Minister José Manuel Soria said “the measure can have a negative effect on oil prices” and explained that “in order not to harm those affected” by a price hike the measure had been scrapped.

“This announcement goes in the right direction, it is positive because it leaves the implementation of quotas without effect,” Gustavo Idígoras, adviser to the Argentine Chamber of Biofuels, told La Nación.

Five months ago the Argentine government, under President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s lead, expropriated 51% of YPF, the Argentine branch of Spanish owned oil company Repsol. The Spanish government initially retaliated by announcing it would impose restrictions on the import of biofuels, a measure that would mainly affect Argentina and Indonesia, the two main exporters of biofuels to the Iberian country.

President Fernández had reacted to the restrictions by saying that “if the Spanish government wanted to pay biofuels at a higher price it was their sovereign decision”.

The Spanish government was due to make public the import quotas it would ask from EU producers next Monday, and Spanish energy companies were anxious for an announcement of the nature that took place today.

Spain is the destination of approximately 50% of the biofuel Argentina exports, a market that amounted to €750m in 2011.

According to Pagina 12 Spain’s announcement comes after pressure had been applied by the World Trade Organisation to reach an agreement of this nature during talks held earlier this month.

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