U.S. exports surge as producers eye new and emerging markets

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, January 9, 2014

U.S. producers shipped more ethanol to foreign countries in November than in any other month in the last year and a half, according to federal data kept by the Agriculture Department.

Ethanol producers in the United States exported 82.4 million gallons in November, a 54 percent increase over October and the highest level since March 2012. While Canada and Brazil remained top importers of U.S. ethanol, much of the product went to new and emerging markets.

According to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, U.S. producers exported 28.5 million gallons of ethanol to Canada in November. The Philippines was the second top destination, receiving 14 million gallons. India imported 8.1 million gallons from the United States, Brazil imported 4.3 million gallons and Norway imported 4.3 million gallons.

Several relatively new markets opened their doors to U.S. ethanol in a meaningful way in November.

China imported 3.5 million gallons, the first substantial amount of U.S. ethanol in more than a decade. Tunisia, Panama and Mexico also imported millions of gallons of ethanol from the United States.

The data were compiled by the Renewable Fuels Association, which said the numbers showed that, worldwide, U.S.-produced ethanol continues to be the lowest-cost liquid transportation fuel.

“The fact that rapidly developing countries like China and India are turning to the U.S. for fuel supply is both a reflection of that economic reality and the effort of U.S. producers to look beyond our borders to build demand,” said Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association.

Direct U.S. ethanol exports to the European Union continued to be inconsequential.

Last February, the European Union slapped an anti-dumping tariff on U.S. imports of ethanol due to concerns that U.S. producers were taking the market and jobs away from European producers. The duty translates roughly to a $83.03-per-metric-ton tariff on all ethanol coming into the European Union from the United States.

Representatives from the Renewable Fuels Association and the U.S. government instead have visited Brazil, South Korea and Japan this past year to further boost ethanol trade opportunities.

The recent increase in export opportunities comes as U.S. producers face a reduced mandate this year for ethanol use within the United States for the first time since the nation had a renewable fuel standard put into place.


The Obama administration has proposed an ethanol mandate this year of 13 billion gallons, 1.4 billion gallons shy of the target set by the 2007 statute that created the most recent RFS (Greenwire, Nov. 15, 2013). U.S. ethanol producers, though, have the capacity to produce between 14.5 billion and 15 billion gallons of ethanol this year.