EU ethanol firms seek investigation of U.S. subsidies

European Union bioethanol producers have asked regulators to investigate whether U.S. exporters are receiving illegal subsidies, a move that could trigger import tariffs on the green fuel, EU producers said on Wednesday.

Placed with the European Commission on October 12, according to industry sources, the complaint could result in a formal investigation later this month, and in provisional tariffs next year on hundreds of millions of liters of bioethanol from the United States.

\”Massive and sudden imports of U.S. ethanol, combined with unfairly low prices over the last few years, have seriously damaged the economic situation of European producers,\” Rob Vierhout, Secretary-General of industry group ePURE, said in a statement.

The case marks the latest stage in an intensifying global race to secure a slice of Europe\’s lucrative renewable market, where demand is boosted by official targets to fight climate change and wean the bloc off fossil fuels.

\”The unfair competition of U.S. imports is simply depriving the EU industry of the benefit of this positive evolution in its own domestic market,\” Vierhout said in the statement.

European biofuel makers\’ troubles have been exacerbated by cold weather and smaller fields than their rivals in the United States and Brazil.

In 2008, the EU imposed tariffs worth up to 400 euros ($552) per tonne on U.S. biodiesel and extended these to Canada in 2009.

Biodiesel producers have been pushing for tariffs also to be levied against imports from Argentinaand several Asian countries.

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