Last week end Presidents Lula (Brazil) and Obama (US) met and had a conversation,
According to the ICTSD, Brazil’s Lula pressed Obama on Doha and on the US tariff policy for Brazilian ethanol this is ICTSD’s take on the conversation
The leaders also discussed ethanol production, which Obama acknowledgedhad been “a source of tension between the two countries.”
The US slaps a tariff of US$ 0.14 per litre (US$ 0.54 per gallon) onimports of biofuels, a measure that critics say is a protectionisttactic intended to tilt the playing field in favour of US cornproducers. Last summer, Brazil threatened to challenge the tariff atthe WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body (see Bridges Weekly, 4 September2008, http://ictsd.net/i/news/bridgesweekly/27688/). But no official complaint has been filed.
“It’s not going to change overnight, but I do think that as we continueto build exchanges of ideas, commerce, trade around the issue ofbiodiesel, that over time this source of tension can get resolved,”Obama said.
The US is the world’s largest producer of the biofuel, while Brazil is the largest exporter.
Any change to the tariff may be a symbolic change. I’ve got a feeling that a good chunk of Brazil’s ethanol is committed to Japanese users.
Brazil does have to get its house in order in a number of ways, as this piece from the Huffington Post a few days ahead of the meeting points out. But as the Huff says, Brazil and the US should lead on Climate Change. It would be a powerful combination: the world’s biggest producer and consumer on the same side.