BEIJING, Aug 23 (Reuters) - China ethanol exports surged six-fold in July from a year ago as producers took advantage of cheaper corn to boost output following a change in government policy, customs data showed on Wednesday.
Exports jumped to 19,814 cubic metres in July from 3,297 a year ago, the highest monthly volume since China ramped up exports at the start of the year, according to data from the General Administration of Customs.
Shipments were up 8 percent from last month’s 18,324 cubic metres, the data showed.
China has been encouraging processors to use up the country’s vast but aging corn stockpiles. In a five-year government plan released late last year, Beijing said it would double ethanol output to 4 million tonnes by 2020.
Saudi Arabia remained the top buyer of the fuel in July, accounting for more than 65 percent of cargoes.
In the first seven months of the year, ethanol shipments jumped to 97,131 cubic metres, five times of the levels from a year ago, the customs data showed.
However, imports for the January to July period slumped more than 99 percent to 2,792 cubic metres, after Beijing hiked taxes on the product at the end of 2016. July’s ethanol imports were just 288 cubic metres.
Imports of distillers grains, a byproduct of ethanol production used as an animal feed ingredient, fell 94.5 percent to 20,818 tonnes during July, according to the data. (Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Richard Pullin)