The European Union (EU), Argentina’s largest export market for biodiesel, has accused Argentina of selling its biofuel at an unfairly low price in the international market (dumping) making the EU’s biofuel industry uncompetitive. As a consequence, it has imposed long-term tariffs on Argentine biodiesel exports to the region.
These tariffs have already started to damage the biodiesel industry’s economic viability. The Argentine government is taking the case the World Trade Organisation (WTO), however, national biofuel producers are pushing for the government to promote biofuel consumption in the national market.
The Indy took to the streets to ask Argentines what they think the government should do to save the biodiesel industry in the face of these new tariffs.
I think that there are various reasons for having a policy that promotes the consumption of biodiesel in the national market. There are environment/ecological benefits, and also the commercial convenience for Argentina. Biodiesel is derived from raw materials and, obviously, this has important benefits for the country and also for consumers who have access to cheaper fuel. But I also believe that Argentina should seek a solution with the EU and look for new export markets for biodiesel so that our country can grow. It is undoubtedly in the EU’s interest to raise the tariffs on Argentine biodiesel and it is in Argentina’s interest to appeal against the decision. Obviously, each country is going to prioritise its national interests.
Firstly, Argentina should take the case to the WTO to discuss the protectionist policies that are affecting various countries and, in this case, Argentina. Tariffs are put in place to protect a community or country’s industry so it is understandable that the EU is applying them to Argentina. However, the measures are damaging the Argentine economy. The existence of international bodies that act as mediators between countries is essential and if there is an opportunity to challenge the tariffs, Argentina should take it.
On the other hand, we must consider that our domestic consumption of biofuel is not great. Producers could use the fact that exports are down because of the tariffs, as an opportunity to promote national use of what is, after all, a more environmentally friendly fuel. Having said that, we have a problem with the balance of trade in Argentina and we need money to come into the country, so we should also look for other export markets.
It is a good idea to take the case to the WTO to make sure that what the EU is doing is, in fact, legal. However, Argentina should also informs its citizens of the benefits of biofuel and promote production for national use. The production of biofuel could be a source of employment for Argentines, there are many poor people here, and the government has to support them.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the first thing that Argentina has to do is inform its citizens about the existence of biofuel because it is a relatively unknown commodity here. If no-one knows it exists, no-one is going to use it. It would be interesting to increase the use of biofuel nationally because it would stimulate the national economy. Argentina has always made the mistake of exporting raw materials, unlike other countries such as the United States, which processes its own raw materials to add value. We end up importing processed products, which could have been manufactured here using our own workforce.
If biodiesel is produced domestically, it would be a cheaper fuel, so it would be great if Argentines could benefit from this. However, at the same time, Argentina should take the case to the WTO because we have to fight for our rights. It is also a good idea to export to other markets so that we do not miss out on other potential clients and sources of income for the country.
I think that Argentina definitely needs to look for new markets for biodiesel so that it is not so dependent on the EU. It would also be a good idea to build up national reserves. I think that Argentina should take the case to the WTO to fight for a fair solution. Ideally, the EU and Argentina would come to an agreement favourable to both parties, I’m not sure that this is possible, but it would be the ideal solution .