The EU is imposing steep duties on imports of biodiesel from the US beginning today, pending a trade investigation into whether they harm EU producers.

US firms exporting biodiesel into the EU will have to pay anti-dumping tariffs of up to 29% and anti-subsidy duties of between 29% and 41%.

In Washington, a US biodiesel industry group called the move protectionist and maintained the duties will not be upheld.

Brussels must decide within the next six months whether to impose ‘definitive duties,’ which would last at least five years.

That step would need approval by EU trade ministers.

The US Trade Representative's office plans to closely monitor the next phase of the European investigation.

The biodiesel duty is the latest in a series of transatlantic trade disputes, which has seen EU bans on imports of US chicken and beef to US action against European gambling firms.