WASHINGTON — Industry and government officials from 17 countries in Asia and Oceania are meeting with members of the U.S. ethanol industry and U.S. officials in Minneapolis this week at the Ethanol Summit of the Asia Pacific (Summit), focused on current and future prospects for expanded ethanol use throughout the region. The event, sponsored by the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), is hosting high-level officials from agriculture, environmental and energy ministries throughout the region who will discuss environmental, human health and economic benefits of ethanol use and foster collaboration and trade across the region. Participating countries include from Australia, Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and the United States. Building on the success and momentum of last fall's Ethanol Summit of the Americas event, this Summit endeavors to capitalize on potential markets in a region with some of the fastest growing increases in fuel demand, increases in GHG emissions, and heightened air quality issues exacerbated by these countries' rates of growth. The Summit is highlighting the use of ethanol in transportation fuels to help meet a number of challenges, including improving air quality, improving the current fuel supply and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, the U.S. Grains Council, along with industry partners Growth Energy and the Renewable Fuels Association, works to expand the use of ethanol to help countries develop policies with a role for trade, while highlighting ethanol's benefits to society. "We are happy to welcome officials from around the world to this meeting," said Tom Sleight, USGC president and chief executive officer. "The Summit furthers policy conversations so governments across the region are in sync about the benefits and opportunities of using ethanol. The benefits of ethanol use provide common ground for countries to collaborate as they seek to meet their societal goals." The Summit nurtures a collaborative environment that encourages senior level officials and industry leaders from a host of countries to find ways to expand the global use of ethanol while developing sound trade policy. "2017 was a record year for U.S. ethanol exports, and our industry is energized by the prospect of new opportunities for American biofuels around the globe that can be opened through better education and understanding of ethanol's myriad benefits," said Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. "This summit is a distinct opportunity to discuss how open Asian markets will continue to benefit the biofuels industry, the American agricultural sector, and Asian consumers." The two-day conference also includes views and analysis on ethanol-related policies, infrastructure and use across Asia Pacific countries. This work includes the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ethanol roadmap, which includes best practices for developing an ethanol industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's perspective on ethanol policy, trade and collaboration, ethanol case studies from Vietnam and the Philippines, ethanol research in Japan and the development of ethanol policy and use in China. "The timing of this summit is prescient, as an unprecedented and troubling level of protectionism across global biofuel markets threatens to undermine the free flow of ethanol, harming both consumers and producers. Hopefully, forums like these will help reaffirm our collective commitment to the free and fair trade of renewable biofuels," said Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Bob Dinneen. The U.S. ethanol industry's efforts, including conferences like the Summit, are working to affirm the United States as the leader in ethanol industry development and as a key partner. The U.S. set an all-time high for ethanol exports in the 2016-2017 marketing year at 1.37 billion gallons (488 million bushels in corn equivalent), exceeding the previous record set in 2011-2012, and is up 17 percent, year over year, through the first half of the current marketing year. The Summit promises to engage international partners to foster further collaboration within the global ethanol industry in an effort to address human health, economic and ecological concerns, and continue to expand some of the fastest-growing markets in the industry. Because building collaboration creates additional markets, the U.S. Grains Council is sponsoring several pre- and post-Summit tours so participants are able to see the full production and value chain of ethanol in the U.S. These tours will highlight ethanol in Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin.