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Bipartisan House Coalition Joins White House, RFA in Demanding Level Playing Field with Brazil

August 21, 2020

Congress, Trade, White House


With just two weeks remaining before Brazil is likely to impose a tariff of at least 20 percent on all fuel ethanol imports from the United States, a bipartisan coalition of House members has joined the effort to restore fair and equitable ethanol trade with Brazil.


In a letter sent Thursday to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, 20 members of the House implored the Administration to ensure that “creating a level playing field for U.S. ethanol be a high priority during bilateral trade negotiations.” Their request follows President Trump’s recent call for “fairness in tariffs” on ethanol. On August 10, President Trump stated, “as far as Brazil is concerned, if they do tariffs, we have to have an equalization of tariffs. …it’s called ‘reciprocity.’” In a letter to Lighthizer on August 11, RFA supported the Administration’s position.


Thursday’s House letter, led by Reps. Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Adrian Smith (R-NE), asks Lighthizer to “…urge your Brazilian counterparts to terminate the ethanol tariff rate quota (TRQ) and prohibitive 20% tariff on out-of-quota imports, and instead reinstate the zero-duty exemption for U.S. ethanol from Brazil’s Common External Tariff that was in effect from 2012 to 2017.”


Commenting on the House letter, RFA President and CEO Geoff Cooper said, “Clearly, there is consensus building that something must be done immediately to prevent Brazil from doubling down on its protectionist ethanol trade policies. Both the White House and Congress understand the need for free and open markets when it comes to ethanol. The chorus of voices is growing louder: it’s time for Brazil to remove its punitive trade barriers and honor its commitment to free and fair trade. Otherwise, the United States may have no choice but to respond in kind and take action to shut out imports of Brazilian ethanol.”


Ken Colombini