Spurred by positive developments in Mexico and China, U.S. ethan­ol producers are looking for a rebound in exports after seeing shipments slump in 2019 and further challenged by COVID-19 related issues this year.

“As the trade wars thaw, we think U.S. ethanol exports will resume vigorous growth,” said Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. 

The U.S. exported 35.2 million barrels of ethanol in 2019, down from 40.7 million barrels the previous year, marking the first decline since 2015, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. 

Ethanol exports started off strong this year before tailing off due to the COVID-19 pandemic. U.S. ethanol shipments in January and February were up nearly 2.6 million barrels compared to a year earlier. 

However, March ethanol exports were about even with 2019 as...