Brazilian government officials and businessmen traveled to China where they are exchanging information, with the aim of opening up more investment opportunities in different sectors. One of them is biofuels.
The Chinese have long been interested in how Brazil manufactures and uses alcohol, which is obtained from sugarcane. Even though the Chinese government is not interested in producing alcohol from sugarcane, the country wants to know how Brazil produces, stores and transports alcohol.
The trade mission to China is visiting the cities of Macao, Hong Kong and Beijing, where the seminar "Investment opportunities in Brazil" will be held. The trip is headed by the Foreign Trade secretary at the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Trade (Mapa), Welber Barral, and aims to attract further investment from China into the country.
Interest in a dialogue concerning biofuels came from the Chinese, according to information supplied by the coordination of the sugar and alcohol sector of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply.
China produces 100 million tons of sugarcane per year, destined for sugar manufacturing. Brazil produces 500 million tons of sugarcane a year, 85% of which concentrates in the Center-South region of the country and 15% in the North-Northeast.
There once was an initiative for producing alcohol from corn, however the Chinese government backed down after realizing that, in this case, there would be competition with the animal husbandry sector. In a country with a population of 1.2 billion, it would not be strategic to turn corn production to fuel manufacturing, because the priority is large-scale food production. corn produced in China is preferably used to feed the cattle herd.
In conversations with technicians at the Mapa, the Chinese expressed their intention of extracting alcohol from cassava, potato and sweet sorghum, a grain with high sucrose content.
"No matter what the raw material, the refinery plants remain practically the same. The Chinese also want to learn how Brazil handles the transport, how the mix with gasoline is done, where this mixing is done, how Brazil stores alcohol and how much can be mixed without compromising older automobiles," explained Luís Carlos Job, head of the sugar and alcohol coordination division at the Mapa. According to the ministry, five provinces in China already use a 5% mix of alcohol into gasoline.
The Brazilian representative for discussing investment in biofuels will be the director at the sugarcane and agroenergy department at the Mapa, Alexandre Strapasson.
Besides the issue of biofuels, during the seminars, projects will be presented for investing over US$ 10 billion in the areas of infrastructure, logistics and power generation.
The mission is part of the strategies forecasted in the document "China Agenda: Positive Actions for Economic-Commercial Relations Between China and Brazil," launched last week in the Brazilian capital Brasília.