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Trade in Biofuels

1. Biodiesel

Biodiesel imports into the EU are subject to an ad valorem duty of 6.5%. However, there is no significant external trade, since the EU is by far the world’s biggest producer. Although technical traits are reported to be less favourable than for rapeseed oil, biodiesel generated from imported soya and palm oil can be mixed in low percentages with rapeseed biodiesel without major problems.

2. Bioethanol – current trade
There is currently no specific customs classification for bioethanol for biofuel production. This product is traded under code 2207, which covers both denatured (CN 2207 20) and undenatured alcohol (CN 2207 10). Both denatured and undenatured alcohol can then be used for biofuel production. It is not possible to establish from trade data whether or not imported alcohol is used in the fuel ethanol sector in the EU.
An import duty of €19.2/hl is levied on undenatured alcohol, while an import duty of €10.2/hl applies to denatured alcohol.

Overall imports of alcohol under code 2207 averaged 2 564 226 hl over the 2002–04 period, up from 1 447 839 hl over 1999–2001. Over 93% came under code 2207 10 (undenatured alcohol).
The principal trade trends are summarised in Table II:

a) average imports of bioethanol increased by 77% over 2002–2004 compared to the previous three-year period (1999–2001), when they totalled 1 447 839 hl;

b) over that period 70% of these imports were traded under preferential conditions, of which almost 61% were duty-free, while 9% benefited from some type of duty reduction;
c) 30% of EU trade under code 2207 takes place under MFN (most favoured nation) conditions.
With respect to the largest exporting countries:
a) over the 2002–2004 period, Pakistan was the largest duty-free exporter with an average of 501 745 hl, followed, at a distance, by Guatemala with 223 782 hl;
b) Brazil is the only country capable of exporting large quantities as MFN, with an average of 649 640 hl over the same period, with the second MFN exporter, the USA, on only 20 109 hl;
c) one country – Ukraine – accounts for the vast majority of imports at reduced duty, with 107 711 hl over the 2002–04 period. Egypt came second with over 43 000 hl.
In addition, recent trends in trade flows may require further consideration, given that increasing amounts of imports take place under headings other than 2207 (for instance under heading 3824 when bioethanol is blended with petrol, attracting a normal customs duty of around 6%). Bioethanol is also imported, blended in ETBE.

3. Preferential imports of bioethanol into the EU
The EU’s preferential trade basically comes under two regimes: the Generalised System of Preferences (including, among others, the Everything But Arms (EBA) initiative) and the Cotonou Agreement. The main preferences accorded under each regime are summarised in Table III and described in detail in the following sections.

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