WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – Japan is expected in January to finalize approvals that will allow the use of U.S. corn-based ethanol in the production of bio-Ethyl Tert-Butyl Ether (ETBE).

Currently, all of the ethanol imported into Japan is sugarcane-based from Brazil because it is the only source of first-generation ethanol that currently fulfills Japan’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission standard (50% reduction from gasoline emissions).

Japan’s decision is the result of several expert committee meetings to assess the GHG emission value of U.S. corn ethanol, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

A comment period will follow the final decision and the new regulation could be implemented in Japan’s 2018 fiscal year, which is April 2018 to March 2019, the FAS said.

In 2016, Japan imported 757 million liters of ethanol for transportation, including 696 million liters of ethanol imported as ETBE and 61 million liters of ethanol used in domestic ETBE production. All of it was made from Brazilian sugarcane.

The Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry proposed diversifying the sources of ethanol to improve energy security and lower the overall cost of sourcing ethanol, the FAS said.