DTN Distillers Grain Update

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By Cheryl Anderson
DTN Staff Reporter

OMAHA (DTN) -- The U.S. Grains Council and the three ethanol producers chosen by China to fill out lengthy questionnaires have been granted a one-week extension by China's Ministry of Commerce (MOC).

According to Tom Sleight, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Grains Council, the three mandatory respondents and the Council, which has also prepared a response to the investigations, received a one-week extension, and will be sending in the required responses early next week.

The People's Republic of China announced on Jan. 12 it had initiated anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations to study whether U.S. agricultural policies, mainly agricultural subsidies, in some way create unfair competition.

At the onset of the investigation, the MOC required U.S. companies exporting DDGS to China to fill out two questionnaires. After the Council helped facilitate a unified industry response, a total of about 80 companies complied.

Since it is not feasible for China to investigate 80 companies, three companies were chosen that were deemed to be the most representative of the trade with China, as well as companies that differ in size and in volumes of exports.

Then Chinese officials selected Archer-Daniels-Midland Company, Big River Resources LLC and Marquis Energy LLC have been chosen for sampling as part of the anti-dumping investigation.

The sampling involves a lengthy, time-consuming questionnaire that must be filled out and returned within about 30 days. Sleight said the questionnaires are very extensive, time-consuming and are a huge undertaking for the companies chosen.

The Council has been using a law firm that is expert in such trade cases, and the three companies chosen for sampling will choose their own firm to assist them in responding.

HURRY UP AND WAIT

After China receives the responses, the waiting game begins.

Sleight said that several things could happen. Obviously, the MOC will take some time to analyze the responses from the respondents and the council. After that, the MOC could ask for more responses if they have additional questions. It would also be likely that a time from China would visit the three ethanol producers in U.S. to verify their responses.

"Or they could do anything they want to," Sleight said. "Normally what they do is ask for supplementary questions or make a visit, that's kind of the normal way of doing things. But this particular case has varied from the norm."

Sleight said there has no communication or indications from the MOC as to what their decision might be on the investigation.

EXPORTS TO CHINA CONTINUE

He added that DDG sales to China have still continued at a slow pace, but seem to have been picking up recently.

"U.S. sellers and Chinese buyers have been waiting for the decision, and some feel the decision is still a while off," he said. "But sales have picked up to China in the past few weeks."

After exports in general slowed down in recent weeks due to shortness in containers availability, merchandisers told DTN this week that exports were on the upswing with buyers pushing to get product shipped by the Middle of May. There has been a lot of talk about people buying vessels for China for DDG.

The DTN Weekly DDG Spot Price Average rose sharply this week, from $116 per ton last week to $123 this week, the hike was caused largely by the upswing in exports, along with rallies in corn/soybean meal prices and slight shortness in supplies due to some of the large plants shutting down for scheduled spring maintenance.

Cheryl Anderson can be reached at cheryl.anderson@dtn.com

Follow Cheryl Anderson on Twitter @CherylADTN

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