Ethanol imports fall in early 2007

By Jerry W. Kram | June 05, 2007
Ethanol imports have fallen since the end of 2006, according to statistics compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. From June to November 2006, the United States imported more than 1.5 million barrels (46.5 million gallons) of fuel ethanol per month, with a peak of 3.2 million barrels (99.2 million gallons) in August. Imports dropped below 1 million barrels for two consecutive months in February and March 2007. That was the first time imports were that low since April and May 2006.

Brazil continues to be the largest exporter of fuel ethanol to the United States. As the world's second-largest producer of ethanol, Brazil delivered more than 500,000 barrels of fuel ethanol to the United States in February 2007. Most of the remainder of U.S. ethanol imports came from countries that are part of the Caribbean Basin Initiative, so they qualify for reduced tariffs on ethanol. Of those nations, El Salvador and Jamaica are the largest suppliers of ethanol to the United States, followed by Trinidad and Tobago.

Most fuel ethanol imports are shipped to the East Coast. Approximately 860,000 barrels of the 939,000 barrels imported in February 2006 landed in East Coast ports. Most of the remainder was imported to the West Coast. Generally, very little ethanol is imported directly to the Gulf Coast, Midwest or Rocky Mountain regions.

Ethanol imports to the United States totaled 17.4 million barrels (539 million gallons) in 2006. Of that total, 10.8 million barrels (335 million gallons) came from Brazil, followed by El Salvador (2 million barrels), Jamaica (1.9 million barrels), Costa Rica (900,000 barrels) and China (800,000 barrels).

Imported ethanol is subject to a 54-cent-per-gallon tariff. One purpose of the tariff is to ensure that only domestic producers benefit from a 51-cent-per-gallon excise tax credit for ethanol and gasoline blends. The tariff is set to expire in January 2009.