China ethanol imports increase after U.S. trade mission

U.S. exports more ethanol to China in October than in previous 10 years combined.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported a significant jump in ethanol exports to China in 2015, following a USDA-led trade mission to the country last year. Representatives from nine state departments of agriculture and 28 U.S. companies, including renewable fuel businesses, traveled to northeast China to explore opportunities for trade in the region.

China is the largest market for U.S. food and farm products: U.S. agricultural exports to the country tripled over the last decade and now account for nearly 20% of all foreign sales of U.S. agricultural products.

"Our objective for every trade mission is to create new markets for farm products made in rural America," said USDA undersecretary for farm and foreign agricultural services Michael Scuse, who led the mission. "U.S. ethanol exports to China have jumped from $8 million to more than $86 million since our May 2014 visit. In October, we exported more ethanol to China than in the previous 10 years combined."

Scuse led the delegation to promote U.S. agriculture and explore the role renewable fuels might play in China's long-term clean energy strategy. The delegation met with gasoline companies, fuel blenders, oil companies, commodity traders and government officials to promote the benefits of using higher ethanol blends. During October, the U.S. exported 32.5 million gal. of ethanol to China -- valued at $57 million -- or 46% of total U.S. ethanol exports for the month. Previous U.S. exports of ethanol to China averaged less than $3 million annually from 2005 to 2014.

Earlier this year, USDA partnered with 21 states through the Biofuel Infrastructure Partnership (BIP) to nearly double the number of fueling pumps nationwide, expanding the ethanol refueling infrastructure by nearly 5,000 pumps -- a $210 million investment that will give consumers access to clean, American-made biofuels and provide more choices at the pump.

"These are the kind of initiatives that strengthen our rural communities and open new doors to help our farmers and ranchers capitalize on the tremendous export potential for American agricultural products," Scuse said.

The past seven years have represented the strongest period for American agricultural exports in the history of the country, with U.S. agricultural product exports totaling $911.3 billion between fiscal years 2009 and 2015. In fiscal year 2015, American farmers and ranchers exported $139.7 billion of food and agricultural goods to consumers worldwide. Not only that, but U.S. agricultural exports supported more than 1 million American jobs both on and off the farm, comprising a substantial part of the estimated 11.7 million jobs supported by exports all across the country. Record agricultural productivity and exports are one example of how USDA has helped bring transformative change to Americans living, working and raising families in rural America.

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