WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday announced new import duties on biodiesel imports from Argentina and Indonesia, which officials said received improper government subsidies. The action was spurred by complaints from a coalition of US producers who said the imports constituted unfair competition. “The US values its relationships with Argentina and Indonesia but even friendly nations must play by the rules,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. The Trump administration has aggressively policed trade relationships and made ending bilateral trade imbalances a centerpiece of its nationalist economic agenda. In 2016, Argentinian and Indonesian biodiesel imports were valued at $1.2 billion and $268 million respectively, according to the Commerce Department.
According to preliminary Commerce Department determinations, Argentinian imports were subsidized at a rate of 50.3 percent to 64.2 percent while Indonesian imports benefited from subsidies at a rate of 41 percent to 68.3 percent. The determinations are preliminary, with final determinations due on November 7. But US customs agents may already begin collecting cash deposits from importers based on the subsidy rates, according to the Commerce Department. Citing “critical circumstances,” the department said the new duties will be retroactively applicable to 90 days before the date of the announcement.