International Policies

International policies work toward connecting multiple countries with agreements over topics such as trade, biofuels and accessibility to resources. The United States’ biobased economy is supported by international agreements or other country actions. Many countries beyond the United States have agreements and actions in place. Some examples are presented below.

World Trade Organization Agreements (WTO Agreements) cover goods, services and intellectual property. Individual countries commit to lower customs tariffs and trade barriers. The agreements help keep services markets open, with a focus on the imports and exports of biomaterials between countries. Developing countries are prescribed special treatment. Governments are required to make their trade policies transparent by notifying the WTO about laws in force and measures adopted. Also, the secretariat must give regular reports on countries’ trade policies.

United States’ economic relations with neighboring countries in Central America and the Caribbean are essential to accessing goods. The Caribbean Basin Initiative of 1983 facilitates the development and export diversification of stable Caribbean Basin economies. It provides countries with duty-free access to the United States market for goods such as biofuels and bioproducts. This initiative plays a vital role in the United States’ economic relations with Central America countries and the Caribbean. Issues with imports and exports are minimalized with this initiative.

The National Biodiesel Board (NBB), founded in 1992 as the National Soy Diesel Development Board, is a nonprofit trade association dedicated to coordinating the biodiesel industry and educating the public about the fuel. The board has been advancing the biodiesel industry for 25 years. NBB members include the following: state, national, and international feedstock and processor organizations; biodiesel suppliers; fuel marketers and distributors; and technology providers. Today, the NBB has over 150 companies as members, representing nearly all 50 states. In 2011, the board launched the Advanced Biofuel Initiative. Last year, antidumping and countervailing duties on biodiesel imports from Indonesia and Argentina were filed. The goal of the duties is to level the playing field for domestic producers.

International trade can be negatively affected by barriers such as tariffs, quotas, and embargos. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) of 1994 is used to promote international trade by reducing or eliminating trade barriers such as tariffs or quotas. The core principles of GATT involve biofuels sustainability. Under GATT, there are many provisions including balance-of-payments, waivers, and non-application to name a few. There is an increase in surveillance of activities, which is done with stronger notification and review procedures.

Created in 2001, Everything But Arms (EBA) grants full duty-free and quota-free access to the European Union Single Market for all products, including biofuels and bioproducts, with the exception of arms and armaments. A country is granted EBA status if it is listed as a Least Developed Country (LDC) by the United Nations Committee for Development Policy. A country will not lose EBA status by entering into a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.

The European Union has established more than 130 environmental targets and objectives to meet between 2010 and 2050 through the implementation of environmental policies. The environmental targets stablished cover a wide range of topics such as energy, greenhouse gas emissions and ozone-depleting substances, air quality, transport emissions, waste, water, sustainable consumption and production, chemicals and biodiversity. As an example, in March 2007 the European Council established the 20-20-20 energy targets. These targets, set with a 2020 deadline, include: a 20 percent reduction in total European Union greenhouse gas emissions; a 20 percent increase in energy efficiency; and an increase in the share of energy consumption from renewable resources by 20 percent. These targets were translated into legislations through the Climate and Energy Package in 2009, the Energy Efficiency Plan in 2011, and the Directive 2009/28/EC. Many of the policies established in the European Union influence the biofuel and bioproducts imports and exports of the United States.

In 2017, the Nigerian government was planning to spend 50 billion dollars to fund and stimulate the investment in local biofuels production in Nigeria. Funds would be provided by the Biofuels Equity Investment Fund. This was set in place with the proposed Nigerian Bio-Fuel Policy and Incentives document. Now in 2018, the Nigerian governments, Raw Materials Research and Development Council would like to use jatropha, a flowering Euphorbiaceous plant that is native to the American tropics, as a potential feedstock for biodiesel. The council has been promoting the crop since 1991 and states that are planting the crop and distributing the seeds to farmers will be beneficial. As much as 200,000 hectares of jatropha should be planted for biodiesel feedstock.

The national policy on biofuels for India (2018) expands the scope of raw material for ethanol production. With the approval of National Biofuel Coordination Committee, the policy allows the use of surplus food grains for ethanol production for blending with petrol. Conversion of surplus grains and agricultural biomass can help in price stabilization. India’s policy supports the setting up of supply chain mechanisms for biodiesel production, which can come from non-edible oilseeds, used cooking oil, and short gestation crops. India’s biofuel policy will help to reduce import dependency year-over-year with better ethanol supply.