Trade Mission To West Africa Leads To U.S. Ethanol Exports

Together with key ethanol and corn industry members, representatives from the U.S. Grains Council participated in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Agricultural Trade Mission (ATM) to Ghana in October of 2019, followed by a side trip to Nigeria to meet with participants from the Global Ethanol Summit. There, the Council’s team discussed U.S. ethanol’s octane, economic and environmental advantages with regional officials and traders, who subsequently increased U.S. ethanol purchases by $17.2 million in marketing year 2019/2020 (Sept 2019 – April 2020) compared to the prior year.

Two weeks following his keynote at the Summit, put on by the Council in Washington, D.C., U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Cenksy led an agricultural trade mission to West Africa to help unlock new opportunities in the region, including for U.S. ethanol.

Nigeria is already the 14th largest market for U.S. ethanol, importing 18 million gallons valued at $26 million in the 2018/2019 marketing year for the industrial-use market. Nigeria also produces some ethanol domestically, predominately using cassava as a feedstock.

While the country has had an E10 policy on the books since 2007, the policy has never been enforced. The Council delegation conveyed the opportunity for expanded Nigerian ethanol production with imported ethanol as a bridge between domestic production and policy demand, which would also allow Nigeria to save on foreign exchange. With limited online refining capacity, Nigeria is largely reliant on imports of finished fuel, which is heavily subsidized and has been the same price for nearly three years.

The ATM following the Summit has been instrumental to U.S. ethanol sales to Nigeria. Following both events, Nigerian buyers have purchased 20 million gallons of U.S. ethanol with an export value of $32.8 million in the 2019/2020 marketing year – a 182 percent increase compared to the previous marketing year level of 11 million gallons, valued at $15.6 million.

The Council invested $100,000 of Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) program funds to attend this mission. The resulting $17.2 million worth of additional business conducted yielded a return on investment (ROI) of more than $172 per $1 of ATP funds spent.

Learn more about the Council’s work to promote ethanol use in Africa.