Indonesia optimistic about WTO complaint against US penalties on its biodiesel

Indonesia is optimistic the World Trade Organization (WTO) will rule in its favor on its complaint against the US Department of Commerce’s policy to impose anti-subsidy duties on Indonesian biodiesel exports.

“We are filing a complaint to the WTO. We won a similar dispute against the European Union so it’s proven that we don’t practice dumping and subsidy,” Trade Ministry’s Director General of Foreign Trade Oke Nurwan said.

ILT-Riau haze 174
A palm oil plantation in Riau. Indonesia’s biodiesel is made mainly from crude palm oil. Photo: The Parrot/Ismira Lutfia Tisnadibrata

In November, the US Department of Commerce imposed duties in the range of 34.45 – 64.73 percent to counter the alleged dumping of Indonesia’s biodiesel shipment.

Paulus Tjakrawan, vice chairman of Indonesia’s Biodiesel Producers Association said Indonesian biodiesel companies and the government have filed the case at the US Court of International Trade in New York ahead of the February 3 deadline.

“We think that their policy is incorrect,” Tjakrawan said.

“The government and industry players have agreed that it requires a joint effort to file the case,” Nurwan added.

Nurwan said the Indonesian government has also sent a letter of objection to the US commerce department but according to Zelda Kartika, director of American affairs at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry, there has been no response to Indonesia’s objection.

The EU in 2013 had imposed 8.8 to 23.3 percent dumping margin on the commodity. Indonesia challenged the decision with the WTO in 2014 with and in January the WTO ruled in favor of six out of Indonesia’s seven points in the case.

According data from the Central Statistics Agency released by the Trade Ministry, EU’s anti-dumping policy had caused Indonesia’s biodiesel exports to decline by 42.84 percent to US$150 million in 2016 from $649 million in 2013, . Indonesia’s biodiesel export to the EU was at the lowest in 2015 at only US$68 million.

Nurwan said the WTO ruling can serve as a reference for all authorities conducting anti-dumping investigations to be consistent with WTO rules, notably during the investigation process.

“Our commitment is to secure markets for Indonesia’s exports to be able to compete in export destination countries’ markets, such as the EU. Meanwhile, for other countries’ investigation authorities, this case could serve as a evaluation material to be prudent when accusing Indonesia of practicing dumping, “ Nurwan said after the WTO made its decision.

Indonesia’s biodiesel is made mainly from crude palm oil. According to data from Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association, the total palm oil export in 2017, including biodiesel, oleochemical and crude palm oil was 32,184 million tons, an increase from 26,573 million tons in the previous year.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in her annual press statement on January 9 that Indonesia would continue the fight against negative campaign and discrimination of its palm oil in the EU and the US.

“Indonesia shall not stand by idly,” she told an audience of ambassadors in Jakarta.

The story first appeared in Arab News




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