Report: US Corn, Ethanol Could Benefit From China E10 Mandate

Source: By Todd Neeley, DTN/Progressive Farmer • Posted: Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Chinese government has created a national E10 mandate to handle corn stockpiles. (DTN illustration by Nick Scalise)
The Chinese government has created a national E10 mandate to handle corn stockpiles. (DTN illustration by Nick Scalise)

OMAHA (DTN) — China’s newly instituted E10 mandate has the potential to create more demand for both corn and ethanol produced in the United States, according to a new analysis from the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University.

In its fall 2017 agricultural policy review, CARD said there are many unknown details about China’s mandate. However, the Chinese are expected to see an increase in gasoline consumption from about 40 billion gallons in 2017 to 46 billion gallons in 2020.

“Meeting the national E10 mandate would require an extra 3.6 billion gallons of ethanol, putting China ahead of the European Union to become the world’s third-largest ethanol consumer,” CARD said.

“Since details of the mandate have not been disclosed, it is not yet clear how China will generate more than fourfold output growth within three years (assuming domestic production is to keep up with consumption).”

As U.S. ethanol producers have faced concerns about the implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard in recent years, there has been an increased emphasis on growing export markets in China and elsewhere.

China’s government announced the new E10 mandate in September as a way to decrease the nation’s corn stockpiles that peaked at more than 4 billion bushels in 2015-16.

According to CARD, the total accounts for about half of world ending stocks and would be enough for domestic consumption for about six months in China. The stockpiles grew as a result of a corn price support policy that was paying Chinese corn producers more than twice the international price level until 2016.

“Burdened by high storage cost, food safety risks, and potential waste, China recently adopted multiple measures to cut supply and increase demand,” CARD said.

“These measures include replacing the support price with a producer support based on planted area and financial assistance for corn processors. These measures have been effective — since 2015, China’s corn consumption has caught up with production, the price for corn dropped to the lowest point in six years, and ending stock has been decreasing. The E10 mandate will further increase the demand for corn and speed up reduction of the stockpile.”

CARD said the mandate started on a trial basis in 11 provinces and will become national by 2020.

“This measure would require ethanol consumption in China, the largest motor vehicle market in the world, to at least quadruple within the next three years,” the analysis said.

“For U.S. producers, this recent development fuels interest in whether China is going to import ethanol and/or corn (the main feedstock for ethanol production in China) to meet the mandate.”