July 2, 2008

Japan, Brazil to Enhance Cooperation on Biofuels

By Kyodo News International, Tokyo

Jul. 2--BRASILIA -- Japan and Brazil will later Wednesday agree on the enhancement of cooperation in biofuels and trade amid a sharp rise in prices of natural resources worldwide, Japanese officials said.

Akira Amari, the first Japanese industry minister visiting Brazil in 24 years, will attend a meeting of a ministerial-level working group on ethanol and strike a deal with Brazil to make the South American country increase its supply of biofuels to Japan, the officials said.

In the Brazilian capital city, the Japanese economy, trade and industry minister will meet his counterpart Miguel Jorge and also agree that the two countries will set up a public-private panel to deepen their economic ties.

The panel is mainly aimed at increasing the number of Japanese companies doing business in the fast-growing country, they said.

The huge Brazilian market is attractive for many Japanese companies. Japan also wants to forge closer ties with Brazil in light of securing stable supplies of natural resources.

Brazil, having the world's top iron ore reserves, is rich in a wide range of resources that are vital for Japanese manufacturers.

After discussions at the working group, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

and Petrobras, Brazilian state-controlled oil giant officially known as Petroleo Brasileiro S.A., are expected to conclude a partnership accord in the field of bioethanol, an alternative energy source to gasoline produced from agricultural products such as sugar cane and corn.

A consortium formed by major Japanese oil wholesalers will also strike a deal with Petrobras to secure more biofuel imports from the company, the officials said.

Amari is scheduled to hold talks later in the day with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is to take part in the Group of Eight summit in Japan next week.


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Copyright (c) 2008, Kyodo News International, Tokyo

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