With Upcoming Elections, Trump Pressures Brazil to Increase Imports of American Ethanol

With sector in crisis due to coronavirus, Americans want to end barriers to sell more fuel to the country


The Donald Trump administration wants Brazil to agree to increase the import quota for ethanol in the country because the gesture will improve the American's chances of re-election in corn-producing states.

According to reports made to Folha, the Americans are working towards the end of an annual import quota without tariff of 750 million liters of ethanol - which exceeds this volume, pays a rate of 20%.

The current quota is already the result of an American request. Until last year it was limited to 600 million liters per year, but Brazil increased to the current value to please the Trump administration.

Trump and Bolsonaro - EPA

The USA produces ethanol from corn, and the product is cheaper than the Brazilian similar, made with sugar cane.

According to government data compiled by UNICA (Union of the Sugarcane Industry), the Americans are the biggest sellers of the substance to Brazil. The country imported 142.5 million liters, of which 127.6 million came from the USA.

The entry of foreign alcohol into the country mainly affects small mills in the Northeast, which last year tried unsuccessfully to prevent the increase in the import quota.

Ending import barriers is a longstanding US plea, but Americans have returned to the burden in recent weeks with new arguments.

The main one, presented in conversations with Brazilian authorities, is that this time the issue is politically sensitive because Trump should benefit electorally from the increase in ethanol sales in the Midwestern states that are part of the Corn Belt.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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