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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 14th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

“Brazil Calls for Ethanol Production by Others” reports Reuters, March 15, 2007, from Tokyo.

Ethanol must be produced by a number of countries if it is to be internationally accepted as a commodity, a development that Brazil hopes will be achieved, Brazil Agriculture Minister Luis Carlos Guedes Pintowas quoted as having said on March 14, 2007. “Brazil has absolutely no interest in monopolising the production of ethanol,” he said.

Guedes said it was important to establish a common standard for ethanol if the renewable fuel is to become an international commodity.

Brazil and the United States are the two largest producers of ethanol, accounting for about 70 percent of world output. Guedes told a news conference that Brazil was prepared to share its experience and technology on ethanol built over the years with countries around the globe including in Africa and Asia.

Brazil, a pioneer of sugarcane-based biofuels, exported 3.43 billion litres (3.4 million kl) of ethanol in 2006, up 350 percent from 2004. Its exports in 2005 totalled 2.59 billion litres.

Guedes said he had met officials in Japan from both the government and private sector, including Japan’s top trading firm Mitsubishi Corp. and third-ranked Itochu Corp., during his visit this week, which ends on Wednesday.

During his talks with Japanese government officials, he said, he suggested the joint establishment of an ethanol production base in Southeast Asia, such as in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia or Indonesia, although no decision had been made. Japan is trying to step up the use of biomass in motor fuels in line with a pledge by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last September.

Japan, the world’s third-largest oil consumer, lags behind many other parts of the world in that in Japan there are practically no users of ethanol-blended gasoline.

Brazil exports about 300 million litres of ethanol a year to Japan for industrial and other purposes, but not for fuel, Guedes said. He said Brazil did not have a target for ethanol exports to Japan.

“We have not received any request from Japan about how much it would like buy or by when,” Guedes said.

Japan’s oil distributors are allowed to sell gasoline blended with a maximum of 3 percent of biomass ethanol, called E3.

Guedes estimated Japan’s ethanol demand at 1.8 billion litres if E3 becomes firmly established in Japan, adding the amount would be well within Brazil’s export capability.
He said he understood that Japan wished to cover some of that demand through domestic production.

“I would like to say that Brazil will have no problems supplying the needed volume when a contract is signed with a Japanese firm,” Guedes said.

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Is this Brazilian outing to Japan an effort to bypass the US tariff problems, but still work with an agreable US Administration that promisses not to compete in the global marketplace with US produced ethanol from corn? Brazil may have a free hand in promoting cheaper sugar-cane produced ethanol.

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