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Posted on  

July 18, 2001

Illinois in talks to boost Mexico ethanol sector

Illinois state officials may travel to Mexico as soon as next week to discuss exporting U.S. ethanol expertise that Mexico could use to reduce its sugar surplus, a spokesman for Illinois Gov. George Ryan said on Tuesday.

"What we are discussing with the Mexican government is to have sugar-based ethanol produced there," said Dennis Culloton, a Ryan spokesman.

The governor met for 30 minutes on Monday with Mexican President Vicente Fox, who stopped in Illinois as part of a five-day U.S. tour. No formal agreement was reached on ethanol, Culloton said, but the two leaders established a framework for future talks.

Culloton said the plan would involve "exporting the ethanol technology and expertise, and perhaps a partnership with a company like Archer Daniels Midland, and developing ethanol there."

Archer Daniels Midland Co. , the grain processing giant based in Decatur, Illinois, is a major producer of ethanol, a gasoline additive. Most of the ethanol produced in the U.S. Midwest comes from corn, but sugar is another possible source.

Culloton said ADM has worked with Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex), the state-owned oil company, on the issue of ethanol. An ADM spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Culloton said Ryan and Fox also discussed the possibility of exporting U.S. corn to Mexico, although no details were given. Illinois is the second-largest U.S. corn producer.

"There may be some opportunities for our corn to be used, for example, in tortilla manufacturing," Culloton said. "The prime focus at this point is sugar, since the sugar farmers and the Mexican government are looking for other value-added markets for their sugar production."

The spokesman said the Illinois officials heading to Mexico, including state Department of Agriculture Director Joe Hampton and Department of Commerce and Community Affairs Director Pam McDonough, would likely meet with officials from the Fox administration and from Pemex.


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