Countries launch forum to transform biofuels into commodities
02 March 2007, ANBA
São Paulo: With the target of consolidating the international biofuel market, especially ethanol, Brazil, the United States, South Africa, China, India and the European Commission are going to launch, on Friday (02), at the offices of the United Nations (UN) in New York, the International Biofuels Forum.
Information supplied by the Brazilian Foreign Office (Itamaraty) shows that Brazil is ahead of this project, sponsoring the idea of making the main producers and consumers of biofuels join forces and create common technical norms for the sector as well as production, transport and storage standards, among other items. With this, the countries participating hope to transform products like ethanol and biodiesel into energy, and not just agricultural commodities.
In this sense, the Forum, to last one year, is going to establish two workgroups, one turned to the exchange of information about scientific and technological advances, and the other to discuss standards and norms for the sector, including infrastructure, logistics and foreign trade.
The groups, according to the Itamaraty, are going to operate in the organization of the International Biofuels Conference, scheduled to take place in Brazil in 2008.
In the evaluation of the government of Brazil, the expansion of the use of biofuels is going to cause partial replacement of oil derivatives, reduce emissions of polluting gas, as well as attract investment to the productive chain.
Clearer international norms, according to the Itamaraty, are going to provide incentives to the private sector in Brazil and in other countries. Apart from that, the diffusion and increase of production is going to generate clear economy of scale and, consequently, a reduction of cost.
As published yesterday by ANBA, the sugar and alcohol sector in Brazil estimates that in 10 years, 50% of the Brazilian ethanol production will be in the hands of foreigners. Just to have an idea of the dimension of the forecasted growth, last year the participation of foreign capital in the sector was just 3.4%.
To the government of Brazil, the production of biofuels is an important vector for development. In Brazil, the sugar and alcohol sector has a turnover of around R$ 40 billion a year and generates 1 million direct jobs, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. Production of biodiesel in commercial scale is only beginning in the country and the government bets that it will benefit more and more small producers of oleaginous plants, like castor seeds, for example.
Brazil and the United States, which are the two main international producers of ethanol, have been mouthing their intention of transforming alcohol into a great international commodity. This will be the main theme of the meeting that presidents Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and George W. Bush are going to have on March 09, in São Paulo. The Itamaraty evaluates that the Forum and dialogue about the sector between Brazil and the US are not excluding, but complementary initiatives.
*Written by Alexandre Rocha and translated by Mark Ament