Jon Doggett, vice president of public policy for the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), recently met with U.S. Grains Council (USGC) Assistant Director, Taipei Office, Clover Chang, and representatives of the Taiwanese government on a fact-finding mission to learn more about the U.S. ethanol industry and the benefits of using the renewable fuel to replace methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) as an oxygenate in gasoline.

Taiwan consumes about 2.5 billion gallons of gasoline blended with 5 to 7 percent MTBE each year. And, like the United States, the country has experienced major pollution problems from MTBE in groundwater. Figures from USGC estimate replacing MTBE with ethanol in Taiwan would create an annual ethanol market of 106 million gallons, equivalent to about one million metric tons (nearly 40 million bushels) of corn.

"It was an interesting meeting," said Doggett. "They met with us to determine a substitute for MTBE, so they were interested in the benefits of ethanol. For them right now, the biggest question is whether they should import the grain needed for ethanol production or import the ethanol itself.

"The Taiwanese currently have two wet mills in operation," he continued, "but they are used mainly in the production of fructose and corn gluten. I didn't get the feeling from them that they were interested in converting either of those (into ethanol production facilities), so if they are going to use ethanol, they will need to build a new plant."

Doggett also discussed with the Taiwanese representatives the development of high-starch corn. "We looked at that possibility as something that would have a high export potential for us and it would also be very valuable for them should they decide to build the plant," he said. "It's also valuable to us, in that high-starch corn isn't something they could probably purchase from China, from whom Taiwan has been buying corn from recently."

The group also stopped in Decatur, Ill., for meetings with Archer Daniels Midland; Washington, D.C., for meetings with the Renewable Fuels Association, the U.S. Department of Energy, USDA's Office of Energy and North East States for Coordinated Air Use Management; and California, for meetings with the state Energy Commission, Water Resources Board and Air Resources Board.

"The Mission of the NCGA staff is to execute programs under the direction of the NCGA Corn Board and to provide professional quality service to our state checkoff and association members"