Donald Trump has swept to victory following the US presidential elections on 8 November, winning 279 electoral college votes compared to Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s 228, with unexpected wins in the previously Democrat Midwestern states of Iowa, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Ohio.
With analysis pouring in on the impact of his victory, several themes are emerging on what it could mean for biofuels, agriculture and trade.
In the USA, Trump is in favour of ethanol, with Renewable Fuel Association CEO Bob Dinneen commenting: “The president-elect repeatedly expressed strong support for ethanol, generally, and the Renewable Fuel Standard, specifically, on the campaign trail. We are confident Mr Trump will continue to support the expanded production and use of fuel ethanol.”
However, while his election might be positive for US first-generation biofuels domestically, it is likely to be negative on global efforts to tackle climate change.
The Paris Agreement on climate change entered legal force on 4 November and requires 195 nations, including the USA, to take collective action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The USA is the second largest contributor of greenhouse emissions after China.
Trump says he is not a great believer in man-made climate change and has vowed to “cancel” the Paris climate agreement, which he calls “bad for US business”.
In terms of trade and agriculture, Trump has emphasised “putting America first and more aggressively pursuing fair trade agreements that recognise the value of American products”, Dinneen said.
As well as suggesting a withdrawal from the World Trade Organization, Trump has threatened to scrap free trade deals including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, which he blames for costing US jobs.
“Indeed, he has talked of 35% tariffs on goods imported from Mexico,” Mike Verdin wrote in agrimoney.com. “Furthermore, he has talked of imposing tariffs of 45% in US imports from China.”
The USA could expect to find its own exports subjected to tariffs in retaliation to such moves..
Dorab Mistry, director of Godrej International, said words to this effect at the recent Globoil conference in India in September, saying a Trump election was “likely to result in a trade war between the USA and China and Mexico, which would be a disaster for US exports of soyabeans.”
Agrimoney.com said China was the top buyer of US agricultural goods, forecast to be worth US$21.5bn in the year to September 2017. Mexico was the third largest buyer, at US$18bn.
“Their retaliation would leave the US facing a monumental effort of finding alternative buyers to avoid a back-up of agricultural commodities on the domestic market, and a collapse in prices,” agrimoney.com said. However, in the short term, there were limits to how much China could avoid buying US crops such as soyabeans.