The United States and Brazil, countries that have major disagreements on agricultural trade, appear to be working toward an initiative to increase the use of ethanol throughout the Americas, the Washington Post reports.
During a press conference in Brazil, U.S. State Department undersecretary, Nicholas Burns, told reporters cooperation between the two powerhouse producers of ethanol would be the "symbolic centerpiece" of a new relationship with Brazil. The initiative is seen as an attempt to strengthen resistance to the leftist influence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is positioning his country's oil wealth as a stepping stone to greater power in Latin America.
There are few details known about the initiative, but Burns is scheduled to travel again to Brazil later this month. There is speculation that Brazil's President Luiz Lula da Silva may travel to Washington to sign it.
The United States will have the capacity to produce 6.1 billion gallons of ethanol annually when seven plants, currently under construction, are online. Brazil, whose ethanol comes primarily from sugarcane, currently produces 4.4 billion gallons, according to a recent report by National Geographic News. Expansion of ethanol acreage in Brazil has environmentalists concerned about additional pressure on the country's rain forests and new lands, according to National Geographic.