BUENOS AIRES, Aug 30 (Reuters) – Argentina’s oilseed industry chamber said on Wednesday that local prices for soy oil and soybeans will likely decline as a result of the U.S. decision last week to slap high tariffs on imports of Argentine biodiesel.
In 2016, 1.5 million tonnes of soybean oil were used to manufacture biodiesel shipped to the United States, representing 7.5 million tonnes of soybeans, the CIARA chamber said in a statement.
The U.S. Commerce Department’s decision to impose duties of up to 64.17 percent on biodiesel imports surprised Argentina a week after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited the South American nation.
“Today CIARA expressed concern about the drastic and unexpected fall in demand for soybean oil as a result of the arbitrary and unjustified blockade imposed,” the Wednesday statement said.
Argentina is the world’s top exporter of soy oil and soymeal and the No. 3 soybean exporter.
Argentina’s foreign ministry has said it is considering all legal options available in response to the tariffs, but the government is first trying to negotiate.
“A proposal to suspend these preliminary tariffs has already been presented … we are waiting for the response of the United States,” Production Minister Francisco Cabrera told reporters on Tuesday.
He said the private sector would meet with U.S. representatives to try to strike an agreement on volume and prices.
The U.S. embassy’s charge d’affaires in Buenos Aires, Tom Cooney, said in a tweet on Friday that the United States would work together with Argentina on agricultural trade issues.
An Argentine biofuels industry source told Reuters last week any duty of more than 15 percent would leave Argentine biodiesel out of the market.