U.S.-Brazilian producers hatch plans for trade mission

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Fifteen U.S. biofuel companies will travel to Brazil in late September in an effort to build trade opportunities between the two countries.

U.S. and Brazilian biofuel advocates announced the trade mission Friday in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as part of the business group’s Export Green Initiative. During the three-day trip, companies will visit Brazilian ethanol plants and meet with Brazilian business associations.

The Renewable Fuels Association, the Advanced Biofuels Association and the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) touted the trip as a way to enhance both bilateral relationships and trade opportunities between the two countries. Since January, the United States has exported more than 97 million liters of ethanol to Brazil, while Brazilian ethanol producers have exported 397 million liters to the United States.

“As the world’s largest biofuels producers and exporters, the United States and Brazil recently removed trade barriers protecting their domestic ethanol industries and have taken steps towards greater energy cooperation, particularly in advanced technologies,” said Elizabeth Farina, president and CEO of UNICA. “We hope this partnership among leading trade associations will represent another important milestone towards developing a global biofuels market that provides clean, affordable and sustainable solutions to the planet’s growing energy needs.”

The mission will be open for up to two representatives from 15 companies with biofuels operations in the United States for a fee of $1,500 per delegation. The U.S. Chamber’s Brazil-U.S. Business Council will help administer the program, which will focus on the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Recife.

“With several of our members already commercializing technology in Brazil, the time is now to expand upon the relationship on biofuels between the two largest producers in the world,” said Michael McAdams, president of the Advanced Biofuels Association. “With the global population headed to 9 billion people and growing climate change concerns, advanced biofuels from our countries are needed, and this partnership will help advance that crucial goal.”

In recent months, the U.S.-Brazilian ethanol trade has been swept up in the broader debate over the renewable fuel standard, the U.S. policy that mandates refiners blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels into the nation’s fuel supply a year by 2022

Brazilian sugar cane ethanol producers have helped provide a chunk of the standard’s advanced biofuel requirements over the past several years in the absence of a large commercial cellulosic biofuel industry in the United States, and in return, U.S. producers have provided the country with conventional ethanol.

Critics in Congress, as well as among the conventional ethanol industry, have questioned whether this “ethanol shuffle” makes economic sense and keeps greenhouse gas emissions at the levels mandated by the renewable fuel standard. Earlier this year, the U.S. conventional ethanol industry called on U.S. EPA to lower its advanced biofuel targets to reduce Brazilian imports (Greenwire, April 9).

EPA last month also incensed Brazilian producers with a proposal that would require foreign ethanol producers to comply with the same requirements as importers of renewable fuel, regardless of whether foreign producers generate credits associated with the renewable fuel standard. UNICA is warning that the proposal would disrupt the U.S.-Brazil ethanol trade, would complicate efforts to meet domestic biofuel goals and might violate international trade rules (Greenwire, July 17).