Argentina may focus on biodiesel exports as soyoil demand fades

By Maximilian Heath
| BUENOS AIRES

Oct 19 Argentina’s portside
processing plants are expected to increase output of biodiesel
as a drop in soyoil demand has pushed them to seek more
profitable alternatives, industry officials said on Wednesday.

China has not bought soyoil from Argentina so far this year,
as it moves toward importing raw soybeans to be crushed on the
mainland. This has shifted Argentine exports toward India, which
also has access to cheaper palm oil.

Such factors have Argentine soy processors setting their
sites more on biodiesel, which would “increase the value of our
exports,” said Luis Zubizarreta, head of Argentina’s biofuels
industry chamber Carbio.

Argentina’s main biodiesel producers include global
exporting giants like Bunge, Cargill Inc and Louis
Dreyfus Corp. They are represented by trade group CIARA-CEC,
which recognizes the need for Argentina to produce more of the
fuel.

“China had been an important buyer of Argentine soyoil.
China was good for a half a million tonnes of soyoil per year.
Today that volume has had to move for the most part of India,
where you have to compete with palm oil,” said CIARA-CEC
President Alberto Rodríguez.

“Biodiesel is important right now. We need to produce more,
which would help support soyoil prices,” Rodriguez said.

The World Trade Organization upheld Argentina’s complaint
against European Union duties on biodiesel this month. A major
exporter of biodiesel and the world’s top soyoil supplier,
Argentina had called the EU measures protectionist and said they
cost the country almost $1.6 billion in lost sales annually.

The EU argued that Argentina was “dumping” or selling
biodiesel at below the cost of production and harming EU
producers, but lost an initial WTO ruling in March.

The international price of soyoil itself has fallen 38.5
percent since April 2012 35.4 cents per pound, and the futures
market foresees no price increases ahead.

(Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Diane Craft)

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