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A Call for Global Cooperation in Spain

May 31, 2013


Seville Church exterior Last week, I had the unique opportunity to participate in the World Biofuels Conference in Seville, Spain. The conference was held at the beautiful Hospital de los Venerables, an over 300 year old building that once housed a hospital for priests. The conference convened in the hospital's chapel, adorned with frescos and artwork that leaves one breathless. I've never spoken in a more inspirational location. The hospital is close to the famous Seville Cathedral, the third largest in the world, where the great explorer Christopher Columbus is now entombed.
Despite the beautiful location, it wasn't all love for the European Union. I sat on a panel discussing "The Outlook for Global Ethanol Trade in 2013." I was joined by other leaders in global biofuel production, including representatives from UNICA, the Brazilian ethanol trade association, and ePURE, the European producers' trade group. We discussed the future of global trade in ethanol, and the recent European Union (EU) anti-dumping duties that were unfairly imposed on ethanol from the United States earlier this year. Biofuels Conference AttendeesThe European Renewable Ethanol Association, ePURE, argued that its recently imposed anti-dumping tariffs against the United States, as well as its other actions on biodiesel from Argentina and Indonesia, were not protectionism, but instead were just "defensive posturing". While the room consisted of many individuals from all parts of the European industry, the position held by ePURE was met with strong opposition from those in attendance. Many criticized the European ethanol producers for ignoring their limited capacity and inability to meet the European demand on their own, and the chilling impact that such a posture would have on global biofuel trade. It is clear from the opposition in the room that most believe Europe's industry would be better served with a more cooperative approach to trade relations. I informed the conference participants that the Renewable Fuels Association has been working hard to overturn this unfair and unwarranted EU decision. The RFA recently filed a complaint with the General Court in Luxembourg seeking to overturn the 9.6 percent duty on American imported ethanol, and is working with the U.S. government to encourage them to file a challenge before the World Trade Organization. I stressed the need to work together to increase the overall size of the ethanol market instead of fighting over current markets. Ethanol is not a finite market. Right now countries are fighting for pieces of the pie, but what we need is for countries to work together to create a bigger pie by increasing demand across the globe. There are emerging markets all over the world, including Peru, the Philippines, and Nigeria, that are working to establish effective pro-ethanol fuel policies. We must work as a group to support and assist in these efforts. There are also potential markets that will develop as the world continues to wean itself of more environmentally dangerous additives like MTBE. To expand the market, we as global ethanol leaders must work together to encourage and foster the demand for ethanol around the globe, and promote its benefits as a global commodity. While discussing the need to expand the global market, I met with Meghan Sapp, the Secretary General of Partners for Euro-African Green Energy (PANGEA). She is focusing on Africa and its desperate need for clean transportation, electricity and cooking fuel. She is out in front of the pack on this issue and believes ethanol is the answer. I am excited to see her work develop and look forward to working with her to use ethanol to help the African people and expand markets in this region. I was encouraged that many in the room opposed the EU anti-dumping tariffs and showed interest in expanding global markets. The conference enhanced my understanding of the world ethanol market, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to challenge countries to think on a global scale.