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Obama's Visit Signals New Chapter for U.S.-Brazil Energy Partnership

by Leticia Phillips on Mar 22, 2011

This past weekend I had the honor of traveling to Brazil to participate in the events surrounding President Obama’s visit, including the Brazil-U.S. Business Summit promoted by the Brazil-U.S. Business Council in Brasilia. Energy policy topped the agenda and prominent members of Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol industry were there to take part in the dialog.

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The only long-term solution to the world’s dependence on fossil fuels is clean energy technology, and that is why the United States and Brazil are deepening our cooperation on biofuels, and why we’re launching a U.S.-Brazil Green Economy Partnership. Because we know that the development of clean energy is one of the best ways to create new jobs and industries in both our nations. ”

President Barack Obama
March 19, 2011
Brazil-U.S. Business Summit

This past weekend I had the honor of traveling to Brazil to participate in the events surrounding President Obama’s visit, including the Brazil-U.S. Business Summit promoted by the Brazil-U.S. Business Council in Brasilia. Energy policy topped the agenda and prominent members of Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol industry were there to take part in the dialog. LeticiaPresidentObama.png

Aside from the raw excitement that consumed the room (that’s me shaking hands with the President – a personal triumph!), there was a sense that the U.S.–Brazil energy partnership was set to enter a new phase. The weekend’s turn of events confirmed that notion and specifically offered encouraging signs that the countries are on a path to achieve free trade for clean, renewable biofuels.

The first major announcement was an expansion of an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to advance cooperation on biofuels, including a new partnership for the development of sugarcane-based jet fuel. That effort is already underway with Brazilian jet manufacturer Embraer working alongside General Electric (GE) and California-based biotech company Amyris to stage the first-ever sugarcane jet fueled flight in 2012.

The MoU also includes a clause calling on both countries to “prevent international barriers to biofuels trade and development,” an important recognition that tariffs and trade protection block consumers in America and around the globe from accessing cleaner, more affordable energy choices.

Additionally, the countries announced the launch of a Strategic Energy Dialogue that involves development and access to Brazil’s new petroleum reserves. This new effort will also deal directly with clean energy technologies.

Altogether these are positive indications that Brazil and the U.S. will together race ahead toward a clean energy future. My boss Marcos Jank, President and CEO of the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA) summed it up best by saying “this is a natural move for the top two renewable energy producers and users in the world. Brazil and the United States should be leading by example, working together to advance on all fronts, including breaking down trade barriers that hinder the global expansion of biofuels.”

copyright 2010 Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association