WASHINGTON — Representatives of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Growth Energy and the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) traveled to Tokyo this week to follow up on an industry market assessment of the potential to export U.S. ethanol to Japan. Over the next two years, the government of Japan will be undertaking a full review of its national energy policies, including biofuels, potentially opening up opportunities for additional ethanol exports there. "The team came away with a much greater understanding of the current Japanese requirements and market conditions pertaining to ethanol and began the implementation of a strategy to help ensure that U.S. ethanol receives fair market access under the future energy policy that will be adopted when the current policy expires in 2017," said Jim Miller, chief economist and vice president of Growth Energy. In addition to meeting with U.S. Grains Council staff located in Tokyo and USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) officials, the team also met with Japanese officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry; the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; and Japanese Diet member Arata Takebe. "The United States exported 900 million gallons of ethanol in 2014, supporting both U.S. farmers and the ethanol industry. We know that, going forward, ethanol exports have the potential to grow and become equally beneficial for our customers overseas," said Tom Sleight, president and CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. "USGC, Growth and RFA are committed to launching initiatives in 2015 and 2016 to build demand for U.S. ethanol and address barriers to ongoing imports." "Japan represents a unique and exciting opportunity for U.S. ethanol exports. However, the opening of markets and trade partnerships don't happen overnight. This trip provided our team with valuable insight and made great first steps to keep ethanol at the forefront of the discussion in Japan," said RFA's director of regulatory affairs, Kelly Davis. "The team will continue examining the requirements of the Japanese sustainability standards, looking for ways to overcome infrastructure concerns, and compiling data responding to some of the misinformation government officials still hold regarding renewable fuels." In 2014, the United States exported a very limited amount of ethanol for industrial uses to Japan. The U.S. ethanol industry believes there is room to open this market for fuel uses, prompting significant additional imports.