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BRAZLIAN GOVERNMENT POLICIES IN THE ETHANOL PROGRAM:
A MODEL FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD?
NICOLAS E. RUBIO
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Nicolas E. Rubio
To my parents. Their love and support throughout my life has allowed me to reach this level in
my academic career. Their efforts to make sure I get a good education have inspired me to do
this and much more.
I thank my supervisory committee chair, Dr. Terry McCoy. His help and support have
been of great help. His passion and knowledge for Latin America are a great inspiration for me.
Many thanks go to Dr. Welson Tremura and Dr. Andy Naranj o (members of my supervisory
committee) for their mentoring and support. Thanks go to William Messina from the Food and
Resource Economics Department. His experience in Latin America and in agricultural issues
allowed me to develop great ideas for my thesis. I also want to thank Adriana Baratelli for her
love, support, and answering all my questions. Thanks go to Carla Rubio, for proofreading my
work late at night and being a great friend and sister. Thanks go to all of my friends from the
Center of Latin American Studies, who also helped me develop ideas for this work. Last but not
least I thank my parents, for their loving encouragement and motivation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .............. ...............4.....
LIST OF TABLES ................ ...............7............ ....
LIST OF FIGURES .............. ...............8.....
AB S TRAC T ......_ ................. ............_........9
1 INTRODUCTION ................. ...............11.......... ......
Literature Review .............. ...............14....
Thesis Approach ................ ...............18.................
2 HISTORY OF ETHANOL INT BRAZIL .............. ...............22....
First Oil Shock in Brazil (1973) ................. ...............22.......... ...
Reaction to the First Oil Shock .............. ............... ...........2
Early Years of the National Alcohol Program (PNA) ........................... ...............25
Second Oil Shock and the Debt Crisis.................... ..............2
Institutional Crisis for the PNA (1979 1981) ................ ...............29...........
A Period of Adjustment for the PNA ................ ............. ......... ........ ......30
New Challenges During the Lost Decade .............. ...............32....
The Brazilian Economy in the 1990s ................. ...............34........... ..
Current Stage of the Ethanol Program ................. ...............37...............
Summary ................. ...............40.................
3 POLICY INSTRUMVENTS ................. ...............47........... ....
Government Policy Options ................ ..... ...............48.
Producer and Distributor Oriented Policies............... ...............49
Consumer-Oriented Policies ................. ...............50.......... .....
Brazilian Ethanol Policies............... ...............52
Government Agencies .............. ...............53....
Regulatory Policies............... ...............54
Blend ratios .............. ...............54....
Price policy............... ...............56.
Production quotas ................. ...............56.................
Environmental policies............... ...............57
Fiscal Policies ................. ...............58.................
Financing policy ................. ...............59.......... ......
Ethanol vehicles taxation .............. ...............60....
Fuel taxation ................. ...............62.................
Other important fiscal tools............... ...............63.
The "New" PNA ................. ...............64........... ....
Policy Outcomes ................. ...............66.................
4 ETHANOL LESSONS FROM BRAZIL.............. ...............69....
Important Lessons from Brazil .............. ...............72....
Energy Situation in Argentina .............. ...............76....
Biofuels in Argentina .............. ...............76....
Domestic Policy Environment............... ..............7
Energy Situation in the United States ................. ...............80...............
Biofuel s in the United States ................. ...............8.. 1......... ..
Domestic Policy Environment............................................8
Set of Policies Implemented by Argentina and the United States ................ ............... ....86
5 THE END RESULT (THE BRAZILIAN EXPERIENCE) ................. .........................93
APPENDIX: ETHANOL IN BRAZIL ................ ...............99................
LIST OF REFERENCES ................. ...............100................
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................. ...............107......... ......
LIST OF TABLES
2-1 Brazilian Balance of Payments (US$ millions) ................. ...........__..... 43.._. ..
2-2 Economic Indicators .............. ...............43....
2-3 Sales of Conventional and Hydrous-Ethanol Cars............... ...............44..
2-4 Production of Ethanol Powered Cars in Brazil ................ ...............44..............
2-5 Brazilian Ethanol Production............... ...............4
3-1 Mandated Ethanol Blend Ratios in Brazil (%) .............. ...............68....
3-2 Vehicle Tax Structure .............. ...............68....
3-3 Ethanol and Gasoline Taxation............... ...............68
4-1 Argentina' s Distribution of Diesel Consumption per Sector ................. ............. .......89
4-2 Argentina' s Consumption of Hydrocarbons Resources ................. ............... ...._...89
LIST OF FIGURES
2-1 Brazilian Ethanol Production............... ...............4
4-1 World Oil Reserves, Production, and Consumption ................. ................. ..........90
4-2 E85 Gasoline Stations in the United States............... ...............91.
4-3 Global Production of Ethanol. ................ ...............92.......... ....
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
BRAZLIAN GOVERNMENT POLICIES IN THE ETHANOL PROGRAM:
A MODEL FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD?
Nicolas E. Rubio
Chair: Terry McCoy
Maj or Department: Latin American Studies
Today many countries, in Latin America, as well as the United States, are affected by
rising energy costs. Many of these countries produce sugarcane, corn, soybeans, and other crops
that could be converted into alternatives fuel sources such as ethanol and biodiesel. The question
addressed by this work is whether Brazil's experience over the last thirty years can serve as a
model for the rest of Latin America and the world. This thesis suggests that the Brazilian
government' s successful policy management during the last three decades can indeed serve as an
example for the rest of the world. This work first examines the history of the Brazilian ethanol
program and the different policy options that were implemented by the Brazilian government.
After analyzing both the historical context and the policies that have worked for Brazil, this work
highlights the lessons that other countries can obtain.
This thesis also studies the current energy situation in two other countries: Argentina and
the United States. The current policy environment and the biofuel situation in each country is
discussed in order to understand the steps taken by other countries in the region to alleviate the
economic impacts associated with the high costs of fuel. Important differences arise when
Brazil's energy policy history is examined side-by-side with experiences in the United States and
Argentina. At the end, lessons from the Brazilian experience are derived in this work that
suggests policy measures that countries can implement when looking to establish a successful
alternative fuel program.
During an era in which oil prices continue to be above the US$ 60 a barrel mark and where
fears about the amount of oil available to meet global demand given the current instability in the
Arab world, politicians in countries such as the United States are anxious to find alternative
fuels. Research to find alternative fuels has become an important issue in the United States and
other developed countries. In the United States, for example, the Bush Administration has been
spreading the message about the importance of promoting alternative fuels:
America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world. The
best way to break this addiction is through technology... We'll fund additional research in
cutting-edge methods of producing ethanol, not just from corn, but from wood chips and
stalks, or switch grass. Our goal is to make this new kind of ethanol practical and
competitive within six years' (United States, "State").
As this message by President George W. Bush encourages the United States to begin to
invest more heavily in alternative fuels for the future and find solutions for the country's oil
addiction, Brazil has already achieved these goals and today is advanced in the ethanol
production as a fuel substitute. Ethanol in Brazil has become the answer to the country's
dependence on oil and may offer a solution for the rest of the world. Sugarcane-based ethanol,
or "cicool" in Portuguese, has been around as a fuel source since the 1930s. However, due to
different economic setbacks in the country, changes in government policies, and the development
of the industrial and agriculture sector, the ethanol program in Brazil has gone through very
different stages since its start in 1975.
This thesis looks at what Brazil has done in the last 30 years to reduce its oil dependence
and become an example to the rest of the world in developing ethanol as a substitute. The policy
SThis message was given by President Bush at his State of the Union Address on January 31s~t, 2006. Since 2001,
the U.S. Government has spent nearly $10 billion to develop cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable alternative energy
instruments implemented by the government and the partnership established with the private
industry have given Brazil the formula for success in terms of energy independence. In fact, this
work suggests that government policy has been an essential component for Brazil's successful
This thesis has three goals: 1) to reconstruct the development of Brazil's ethanol program
over the last three decades, 2) to understand the current policies and those implemented since
1975, and 3) to determine what lessons can be learned for other countries. This thesis
hypothesizes that Brazil's policies were a crucial component for the success of their ethanol
program. Through examination of the events that influenced the Brazilian government' s
decisions, the reader is able to understand the challenges that Brazil faced since the beginning of
the 1970s. Moreover, by analyzing Brazil's history since 1973, the reader is able to compare
those times with today's political economy.
In addition to exploring the policy options already in place and those implemented over
time by the Brazilian government, this thesis analyzes the program's outcomes and explains why
the program has become successful. After looking at the Brazilian experience and highlighting
its results, this paper examines how the Brazilian ethanol experience could serve as a model for
countries in need of alternative fuels.
The research compares the current alternative fuel situation in the United States and
Argentina to Brazil's by investigating the policies and paths that these countries have taken to
alleviate their oil dependence. At the end, this thesis looks to find answers for two central
questions: what lessons can be taken from the Brazilian experience and what role governments
should take in order to create effective alternative energy programs.
The thesis and the approach to analyzing the content are significant for two reasons. First,
the current energy challenges countries are facing have created numerous economic and
environmental pressures. As a result, interest in developing new alternative fuel sources has
increased dramatically. Therefore, understanding how Brazil created a successful ethanol
program is significant in order for other countries to reduce their oil dependence.
For instance, the current oil dependence in countries such as the United States was just
shown when oil giant BP announced the closure of the biggest oil field in the country on August
2006 because of excessive corrosion in its pipelines in Alaska2 (ISidore). This decision placed
more pressure to the already tight global oil market since it represented about half of a percent of
the total global production (Isidore). Even though 400,000 barrels a day might not sound like
much for the total global production, the current high dependence on oil has made the global
economy more vulnerable to any shifts in supply. As a result, the average price for a gallon of
unleaded gasoline in the United States for example was US$ 3.03 in August. This was US$
0.021 short of the record high established on September 5, 2005, a week after Hurricane Katrina
hit New Orleans (Isidore). This situation not only affected consumers at home, but the sharp
increase in oil prices could seriously hurt financial markets, both directly or indirectly, many
country's growth levels, and production costs for many industries. If governments, such as
Argentina and the United States were to take a more serious approach to implementing policies
that promote developing alternative fuel sources, oil dependence can decrease significantly and
countries can avoid serious impacts on the economy.
Understanding Brazil's approach to alleviate its oil import bill since 1973 is also
significant for global security. Even though energy independence has been a topic of discussion
2 Alaska's Prudhoe Bay represents 8% of the United States' oil production (Isidore).
for many governments around the world, it was not until September 11, 2001 that this debate
became more serious. The United States, for example, uses more oil than any other country in
the world yet it only has 2.7% of the remaining global reserves (NET 3). In addition, countries
such as China have begun to demand higher quantities of oil which has put more pressure on
producing countries. Moreover, many of the oil producing countries such as Iran, Iraq, and
Venezuela are not considered reliable suppliers due to political issues.
Sugarcane or corn-based ethanol is a renewable fuel source that could reduce oil imports
for countries such as the United States. For instance, today ethanol provides only about 3% of
the United States' transportation fuel (Sandalow). In contrast, ethanol in Brazil provides more
than 40% of the transportation fuel (EIU, "Ethanol-fuelled"). Therefore, if countries such as the
United States are looking for ways to reduce foreign oil dependence from unstable or unfriendly
governments, officials should look at the Brazilian experience over the last thirty years.
Understanding all aspects of the Brazilian ethanol program is important because it could serve as
an example for other countries to create an energy plan able to provide reliable fuel resources
which can help a country become more secure and independent.
The ethanol program in Brazil dates back to the early 1970s. As a result, all the literature
found for this research can be divided in two categories. First is the literature from the 1980s
and 1990s that describes the economic challenges faced by Brazil and the reasons why a national
ethanol program was pursued. The second part of the literature review dates from the year 2000
and to the present. This literature explains the current stage of the Brazilian ethanol program and
the challenges countries around the world are facing because of the sharp increase of oil prices.
In the mid 1980s, literature from researchers and Brazilian government officials evaluating
the National Alcohol Program's (PNA) results was very extensive. The books and documents
that reflected on the ethanol program during this decade discussed its social and economic
benefits for Brazil. The analysis from the 1980s sees the PNA as an important program for the
country's future, but lacks a global perspective. Among the literature in English about the
program in its early stages was Ethanol, Employment and Development: Lessons from Brazil by
Armand Pereira. The author analyzed the Brazilian ethanol program from its inception in 1975
to 1986. He identifies the importance of this program for Brazil to substitute oil and alleviate its
economic challenges. Pereira explains the history of the ethanol program, the policies
implemented, and the benefits obtained, as well as the challenges faced. The author considers
other countries that initiated some production of ethanol at the time, but fails to explain the
approach taken by the other countries.
Brilhante (1997) also provided an excellent background of the history of ethanol in Brazil.
He described and analyzed the motivations and events that propelled the Brazilian government to
create the PNA. His paper also explains the issues that increased the skepticism of many
Brazilians late in the 1980s and throughout the 1990s. The author concludes that ethanol has
been an ad hoc response to a set of circumstances and downplays the Brazilian government' s
Literature from the Brazilian government and institutions interested in endorsing ethanol is
useful to understand the way the program was promoted. Books from the National Alcohol
Commission and Ethanol and Sugar Union of Sho Paulo put into context the importance of
ethanol not only for Brazil, but for the sugar producers that faced constant fluctuations in the
international markets. Proorama Nacional do Alcool Proalcool and Alcohol: A Sustainable
Fuel Story from 1983 and 1997 respectively explain the ethanol process and the benefits for the
country and the agro-industry. These reports provided information to help understand the role of
the government and the agro-industry towards the end consumers, that is, the way they marketed
the program to the everyday Brazilian.
An analysis of the historical context in which the ethanol program was created is extremely
relevant for this thesis because it allows the reader to compare the situation in the 1970s to the
current one. Moreover, by understanding what Brazil faced over the years, an assessment on the
policies implemented by the government becomes more comprehensible. The literature from the
1980s and 1990s explores not only the beginnings of this program, but it describes the policies
created over time, the results obtained, and various perspectives from Brazilians. These books or
articles provide the necessary background to evaluate the performance, understand the
challenges, and the opinions of people involved in the early stages of the PNA. Writers such as
Jonathan Kandell provided an excellent perspective of Brazilians in 1989 when the industry was
going through its most difficult stage. In his article for The Wall Street Joumnal entitled "Brazil 's
Costly M~ix: Autos and Alcohol -Alternative Energy Plan Falters as Oil Prices Fall ", Kandell
was able to obtain various opinions from people such as Antonio Delfim Netto3. This
information allows this research to understand the reasoning behind much of the policies
implemented, as well as to provide both the positive and negative thoughts of Brazilians about
the PNA. At the end, this information describes the conditions and criticism that the Brazilian
government faced. This can be compared to what countries such as the United States are
currently going through while developing an alternative fuel program.
The 1990s were critical for Brazil's ethanol program. Consumer skepticism increased and
the government' s PNA lost much support; accordingly, the topic did not receive much attention
in newspapers and historical analyses. Low oil prices and increased sugar prices in the
3 Former Planning Minister who supervised the expansion of the PNA in 1980.
international market were two of the main factors that hurt the PNA in this decade. Now that oil
prices are back on the rise, new literature has started to emerge. In the last four years,
newspapers from all over the region are filling pages with stories about the Brazilian ethanol
experience. Articles from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, O
Globo, BBC News, and many others are making people aware of the alternatives a country like
Brazil has been able to produce. Even Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, President of Brazil, wrote an
op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in July 2006 entitled "Fuel for Jhought. In this article,
President Lula explains the importance of ethanol in this modern era and emphasizes the need of
cooperation among countries to expand ethanol production and meet global demand.
Other reports from agencies such as the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on
Agriculture (IICA) and the Argentine Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTTA) are also
voicing the importance of biofuelS4. Biofuels in Latin American by INTA and Perspectives on
Biofuels from Arsentina and Brazil by IICA and the Argentine Secretariat of Agriculture, are
two recent reports that cover the current need for alternative fuels in Latin America. They both
concentrate on what countries in the region are capable of doing to reduce their dependency on
oil if the right policy instruments are implemented.
A second body of literature is of great help for this thesis. As the history of the ethanol
program is analyzed, questions arise about why other countries did not take the same approach
Brazil took three decades ago. Now that high fuel costs are affecting the global economy,
literature from the year 2000 to present concentrates on recounting the work by the Brazilian
government to obtain energy independence and reduce the use of oil fuels. Moreover, as
4 Any renewable fuel derived from biomass or agriculture products such as corn, soybeans, sugarcane, palm oil, and
countries around the world start to set policies to promote alternative fuels, the most recent books
and articles about ethanol show how Brazilians adapted to challenges that they faced over time.
Ethanol has become the "life and business"' of Brazil according to Luiz Femnando Furlan,
who was Brazil's Minister of Development, Industry, and Foreign Trade in 2002. This thesis
examines the role that the Brazilian government played in creating an alternative fuel industry
that now serves as an example for the world. This proj ect explores the reasons why the Brazilian
government created the PNA, the government' s role in this industry, the main issues and
challenges the program faced throughout the years, and the results of government policies that
were implemented over the years for the development of the ethanol industry. Finally, it looks
into what other countries are currently doing compared to Brazil in order to reduce its oil
Ethanol has become extremely important not only because of current high oil prices, but
also due to its ability to help country's finances and push for economic development. The
second chapter, "History of Ethanol in Brazil", examines the circumstances that the Brazilian
government faced when it first created the PNA in 1975. During the first oil shock of 1973, oil
accounted for almost half of the primary consumption of energy in Brazil. Since about 80% of
the country's oil need in that time was imported, the government looked for a comprehensive
solution to the crisis. The chapter also concentrates on what the country was going through
during the periods of the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and its current state in the new millennium, as
well as the different stages and challenges the ethanol program faced.
5 Minister Furlan has been a vocal proponent of the idea that ethanol offers Brazil a chance to improve the
environment while creating new jobs and saving money for consumers. This was the message by Furlan speaking
in the Lounge of the Women' s Faculty Club at the University of California, Berkeley, on April 20 h 2005.
The third chapter, "Policy Instruments", assesses the different tools used by the Brazilian
government to promote the program. According to the New York Times: "Brazil's path has
taken 30 years of effort, required several billion dollars in incentives and involved many
missteps" (Rohter). This is precisely what happened in Brazil and what the chapter analyzes.
The government has taken different measures in order to promote the industry. However, as
history shows, the PNA went from very successful years to times where public skepticism almost
brought it to an end. Currently, the use of ethanol in Brazil has been accelerated in the last three
years. This is a result of the different policies and incentives the government has implemented,
as well as the partnership both the government and the private sector have developed over the
years. With the introduction of flex-fuel engineS6, the ethanol industry has become more
important than ever for Brazil and eventually the world. The policies and incentives mandated
by the Brazilian government throughout the years are the main theme of this chapter.
The fourth chapter of this thesis concludes the analysis of the Brazilian experience and the
role of the government with the ethanol program. This chapter summarizes how government
policies can play an important role for the development of programs like the PNA in Brazil.
Furthermore, considering that oil prices and supply have become a serious issue due to
geopolitical problems or unstable governments, this chapter looks at what other countries are
currently doing and what they should take from Brazil. One of the two countries this chapter
considers is Argentina. Fossil fuels in this country are a dominant source of energy. These
resources represent 88% of the country's energy supply (Rubio 6). Among the varieties derived
from fossil fuels, diesel has a market share of 48% and is most commonly used among the cargo
transportation industry, the agriculture sector, and public transportation (Rubio 6). Currently,
6 Engines designed to run on pure hydrous ethanol, pure gasoline, or a blend of gasoline and anhydrous ethanol.
there is a demand for diesel in Argentina of about 12.4 million cubic meters per year and by
2010 the demand should reach about 15 million cubic meters (IICA/ SAGPyA 26). However,
there are concerns about the availability of these resources since it is estimated that Argentine oil
reserves will last 9.1 years and 10.2 years for natural gas (IICA/ SAGPyA 26). As a result,
biofuels have become very attractive as an alternative source of fuel for this country, and as of
April 19th, 2006 its Congress approved a Biofuels Law to promote the production of biodiesel
The other country this chapter covers is the United States. As the highest oil consuming
nation and importer in the world, the current energy crisis is of maj or concern. Gasoline and
diesel represented about 98% of the transportation fuel sold in 2004 (Bush 1). Currently, "U.S.
motorists' demand for gasoline is now approaching 380 million gallons a day" (Bush 1). As a
result, the United States is indeed in a position where policies aimed at the promotion of
alternative fuels must be implemented for its national security and its economy. This is where
the Brazilian experience with its ethanol program can guide the United States. This chapter
looks at what the United States has done recently to alleviate its oil dependency and what it can
take from Brazil either by looking at previous or current policies or through cooperation among
the two countries.
The final chapter serves as a conclusion for this research. This fifth chapter covers the
findings obtained while looking at the several policies implemented by the Brazilian government
and its significance. After analyzing the history and the results obtained in Brazil with its
ethanol program, it is important to understand if the steps taken by Brazil really serve as a model
for the rest of the world. In this era of high oil prices and new environmental challenges due to
issues such as global warming, alternative fuel programs must be taken seriously. Finally, this
chapter looks at the end result of the ethanol experience in Brazil. The program has gone
through various stages through its three decades of history; therefore looking at its outcomes can
be a guideline for the future.
HISTORY OF ETHANOL INT BRAZEL
First Oil Shock in Brazil (1973)
The first oil shock quadrupled the price of petroleum. Brazil relied on imports of oil close
to 80% of the country's consumption. The oil shock raised the country's total import bill from
US$ 6.2 billion in 1973 to US$ 12.6 billion in 1974. In addition, the Brazilian trade balance
changed from a small surplus in 1973 to a deficit of US$ 4.7 billion in 1974 and a current
account deficit from US$ 1.7 billion to US$ 7.1 billion (Baer 87) (Table 2-1).
In 1974, Brazil produced 177,000 barrels a day of petroleum and had reserves for 12 years
compared to 1 billion cubic meters a year of natural gas with reserves for 20 years (Pelin 101).
By 1979, Brazil's production str-ucture of primary energy was approximately 14.5% from non-
renewable sources compared to 85.5% from renewable sources (Pelin 90). Out of the total non-
renewable sources produced in Brazil, 9.7% was oil (Pelin 90). Since 41.5% of Brazilians'
energy consumption was based on oil, Brazil had to import the difference (Pelin 92). The
imports of oil from foreign markets indeed put Brazil in an unfavorable situation. By 1979, the
gross foreign debt had reached US$ 49.9 billion (Baer 92) (Table 2-2).
Even though the country was facing this difficult situation, the Brazilian government led
by General Ernesto Geisel, opted to continue to increase the country's growth levels. The
obj ective was to follow the "economic miracle" years presided by President Emilio Garrastazu
Medici7 when real GDP had grown at annual rates of 11% and when inflation had been brought
to is lowest level since the 1950s. General Geisel's government, who came to power in March
1974, had two main goals: improvements of income distribution and continued high growth rates
SM~dici governed from October 30 h, 1969 to March 15 h, 1974. His presidency was characterized by how the
political repression by the Brazilian military government reached its height.
of the Medici government. However, Geisel faced various economic and political difficulties
that announced the end of the "economic miracle" in Brazil and threatened the military regime.
By the end of 1973, the foreign debt surpassed US$ 10 billion and by 1974 inflation
reached 34.5% (Dubeux). As a result, a significant policy response occurred in 1975 when the
government decided to push economic growth with the introduction of the Second National
Development Program (PND II, 1975-1979) (Appendix A). This program consisted on massive
investments in the energy sector in order to decrease the dependence of external energy sources
and reach growth levels of 12% by 1979. The ways to achieve the predetermined levels of
* Import substitution of basic industrial outputs (such as steel, aluminum, copper, fertilizers,
and petrochemicals) (Baer 88).
* The rapid expansion of the economic infrastr-ucture (hydro and nuclear power, alcohol
production, transportation, and communications) (Baer 88).
Under the PND II, many of the investments were undertaken by state enterprises. The
private sector carried out investments such as capital goods and in many cases they were
supported by the Brazilian Development Banks (BNDES). This program and its funding acted as
a countercyclical policy in order to maintain reasonable rates of growth and employment that
were affected by the impacts of the first oil shock. The PND II aimed at increasing the country's
self-sufficiency in important sectors such as energy.
Reaction to the First Oil Shock
With the challenges that Brazil faced in the early 1970s due to the first oil shock and the
reduction of the price of sugar in the world market between 1969 and 1974, the government was
forced to look for solutions. In an attempt to improve the balance of payments and reduce its oil
SThe BNDES is a federal public company that is associated to the Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign
Trade, which has as an objective to long term financing of endeavors that contribute towards the development of the
dependence, the Brazilian government created the National Alcohol Program (PNA). This
program aimed at taking full advantage of the sugarcane production to produce anhydrous
alcohol as a gasoline blend and hydrous alcohol as a full substitute for gasoline.
Hydrous ethanol and anhydrous ethanol are two types of fuels with different uses and they
involve different implications for planning and development. Hydrous ethanol is 94% water-free
and anhydrous ethanol is about 99.8% pure. This is a very important distinction not only
because of different uses, but also because the step that involves removing all water to make
anhydrous ethanol requires an extra distillation column in the production process. This extra
step raises the cost of production of anhydrous ethanol by 5% to 9% (Pereira 13). However,
earlier studies in Brazil and in the United States have concluded that blending anhydrous ethanol
to gasoline improves performance and saves energy (Pereira 14).
Anhydrous ethanol can be blended with conventional gasoline in amounts of up to 20% to
25% to make gasoholl" for car fuel without any adaptations to the engine. This mix increases
the octane content of gasoline, prevents pre-ignition, and replaces tetra-ethyl lead. It is also
important to point out that after years of experience and testing, Brazil has shown that the energy
gain from the mixes with anhydrous ethanol depends on the quality of gasoline mixed. In the
case of hydrous ethanol, this type of fuel can be used only as a straight fuel in cars with hydrous-
ethanol engines. Yet, the fuel efficiency of these types of cars is 17% to 18% lower than
gasoline vehicles. There are also other considerations that these types of ethanol fuels present to
both consumers and producers. Hydrous-fuel vehicles cannot run on gasoline nor on gasohol;
meaning that the owners of these cars could not use gasoline as fuel in the event that world oil
prices and the cost of gasoline were to decrease significantly.
9 Typically, the process of making hydrous ethanol uses two or three distillation columns.
Early Years of the National Alcohol Program (PNA)
The PNA in 1975 was mainly intended to reduce Brazil's oil imports; however, it also
provided some other direct and indirect effects. The creation of jobs and environmental
improvement were some of the benefits of this program. In addition, this industry created a huge
domestic demand for Brazilian sugarcane and lifted the Brazilian sugar industry once more. The
PNA provided the needed assistance for its sugar producers who had faced constant problems of
overproduction and price fluctuations.
The Brazilian government launched the PNA even though the unit cost of ethanol was
substantially higher than gasoline in 1975. It was not until the second oil shock in 1979 that the
average barrel of ethanol produced in Brazil became more economically competitive. For
instance, the average economic cost difference in 1979, 1980, and 1981 to produce gasoline
compared to anhydrous ethanol was US$6.2, US$6.2, and US$6. 1 cheaper respectively (Pereira
69). Therefore, it was clear that the decision to create the PNA in 1975 was not purely made on
the basis of the relative costs of gasoline and ethanol, but also on the uncertainties of market
trends of oil and sugar, foreign currency savings, employment, income distribution, and the
development of a capital goods sector. According to Armand Pereira, the Brazilian government
and entrepreneurs were able to look at other important factors that attracted them to invest in the
*Ethanol in Brazil had already been produced starting in the 1920s and it was used for both
fuel and non-fuel purposes. The technology to produce ethanol was well known; as a
consequence the country's sugar mills were able to annex ethanol distilleries to their
facilities (Pereira 2).
'O This price difference includes refinery costs, distillery production costs, distribution costs, and Brazilian
government subsidies costs for ethanol production.
* Due to the low sugar prices in the international market in the 1970s, ethanol production
among sugar entrepreneurs saw this as an opportunity to generate extra revenues (Pereira
* Brazil's massive area of land resources did not restrain the production of sugar and
ethanol. The government understood that the production of ethanol would not interrupt
any supply of sugar to meet domestic and international demand (Pereira 2).
The PNA, initially supervised by the National Alcohol Commission, had four main
* Savings of foreign exchange as a result of oil-import substitution.
* Reduction of disparities of income among regions and individuals.
* Growth of national income through the deployment of underutilized resources, particularly
land and labor.
* Growth of the capital goods sector through the rising demand for equipment with a high
level of national participation (Pereira 49).
Overall, the program had a slow start and the decision-making process was very inefficient
until 1979. One of the issues at the beginning of the program was the little information or back-
up research to guide the decisions by the commission. Many of the decisions made in the first
five years for proj ect proposals were made without strong foundations:
During 1978, alcohol distillery proj ects were approved with possessed estimated internal
rates of return varying from 1% to 78%. This discouraging scenario led to the first maj or
effort at assessing PNA, financed by the National Research Council, to decry "... a total
lack of policy-making capacity within the PNA" (Pereira 49).
These issues within PNA and the rise of oil prices in 1979 led Brazilian President Joho
Figueiredo to issue an executive order in July 1979 intended for strengthening the institutional
base of this program. Among the changes imposed by the President, the National Alcohol
Commission was replaced with the National Alcohol Council. In addition, an Executive
Committee was created to provide technical support to the Council, as well as to encourage
alcohol-related research. However, Brazil was not entering the 1980s with strong indicators. By
1979, the country had a balance of payment deficit of US$ 2.8 billion and oil imports had
increased to US$ 6.7 billion in the verge of the second oil crisis (Baer 88). Along with the debt
crisis of the 1980s, PNA was about to face new challenges.
Second Oil Shock and the Debt Crisis
By the second oil crisis in 1979, the Brazilian economy was extremely vulnerable to
changes in external conditions. Since 1973, Brazil's terms of trade were deteriorating and led to
the reduction of national income levels. As a result, the Brazilian government opted for a
strategy that avoided decreases in consumption and domestic investment in order to continue the
levels of growth of the "economic miracle" years. This strategy involved an ample import
substitution program in the capital and intermediate goods sector through strong fiscal and credit
incentives, as well as high amounts of investments by state-owned enterprises.
Brazil was able to maintain high growth levels during the second half of the 1970s. This
success was accomplished primarily by government intervention with investment programs such
as the PND II. The government made sure that investments and external credit availability were
accessible in order to avoid a period of stagnation. This continued inflow of external financing
to fund investments resulted in an enormous increase in foreign debt l. By 1978, Brazil's gross
foreign debt reached US$ 43.5 billion (Baer 92).
In 1979, the second oil shock nearly doubled the price of imported oil to Brazil and
lowered its terms of trade even further. In addition, the rise in international interest rates due to
new restrictions of U. S. monetary policies increased Brazil's balance of payments problem and
the size of the foreign debt. Between 1979 and 1980 Brazil's gross foreign debt rose to US$ 49.9
11 The international financial markets were very liquid after the first oil shock. International banks flush with
petrodollars were able to make loans at low interest rates. Brazil was able to easily justify its increased international
borrowing in those years. The average cost in real terms for international borrowing between 1974 and 1978 were
13.4%, 5.9%, 6.7%, 6.9%, and 5.7% respectively.
and US$ 53.8 billion respectively (Baer 92). The initial impacts of the higher oil prices together
with high external debt servicing obligations created extreme problems to the already unstable
public sector of Brazil. Also, the accelerated inflation rateS12 in the country and the 1982
Mexican debt crisis, which ended Brazil's access to international financial markets due to doubts
about the future health of the country's economy, created increasing pressure for economic
adjustment. A period of stagnation starting in 1981 extended through the entire decade of the
1980s. The GDP in Brazil declined by 4.4% (Baer and Mueller) in 1981 and this became known
as the "Lost Decade".
The policies enacted by the Brazilian govemmentl3 in 1980 seemed to run counter to what
was needed for balancing accounts. The expansionist policies by the government resulted in the
massive increase of the foreign debt and a strong acceleration of inflation. By 1981, the policies
were abandoned and replaced by a policy based on high interest rates and currency devaluation
designed to encourage the inflow of foreign capital. This contributed to the economy recession
of the 1980s.
The country experienced other severe problems during the "Lost Decade". Increased tax
evasion resulted from both a complex taxation structure and the rise of the informal sector in
several segments of the economy. In addition to the critical revenue situation, expenditures
increased from 9.9% of the GDP in 1980 to 14.3% in 1989 (Barbosa and Macedo 5). The
Brazilian government's financial commitments also increased dramatically. Total financial
expenditures jumped from 0.63% of GDP in between 1970 and 1978 to 3.5% of GDP between
1988 and 1989 (Barbosa and Macedo 5). This situation resulted largely from the domestic and
12 Between 1980 and 1985, the rise in the GPI had escalated from 86.3% to 248.5% annually (Baer and Mueller)
13 This government was led by General Figueiredo, the last military president in Brazil who took office in March,
foreign debt accumulation. The government savings ended up reducing significantly over the
years from 7% of GDP in the early 1970s to negative values in between 1987 to 1989. Indeed,
the public sector' s continuous structural disequilibrium and the interr-uption of its financing
resources were clearly the consequences of the inflation problems and the overall stagnation of
economic production during the 1980s.
Institutional Crisis for the PNA (1979 1981)
The challenges brought by the debt crisis and the second oil shock created a period of
reforms starting 1979. Between late 1979 to the end of 1981, the PNA went through an
institutional crisis in which the government needed to set new goals, new responsibilities, and
adjust the future of ethanol in Brazil. This second phase for the PNA insisted in using hydrous
alcohol as a full substitute for gasoline. As a new objective, the new goal was to produce 10,700
million liters of alcohol by 198514 (Pereira 78). Yet, the expansion of production was to be
based in autonomous distilleries in order to concentrate in the production of hydrous ethanol.
The idea was to reduce oil consumption and increase the demand for a fuel produced at home.
There were other goals established in 1979: The production of 900,000 new hydrous ethanol cars
and 270,000 gasohol cars to be converted to hydrous.
By 1980, production of anhydrous and hydrous ethanol reached 3,500 million liters" (22.6
million barrelsl6) (Pereira 53). Furthermore, about 253,000 hydrous ethanol cars were produce,
30,600 gasohol cars were converted to hydrous ethanol, and some light vans and tractors also
fuelled by hydrous ethanol were introduced on the market (Pereira 53). This first year after the
14 6,100 million liters of hydrous ethanol, 3,100 million liters of anhydrous ethanol, and 1,500 million liters of
alcohol for non-fuel purposes.
1s This represented a 6% of total consumption of oil in 1980.
16 According to Pereira, one barrel of ethanol is equivalent to 159 liters (Pereira 151).
reforms showed positive results for the government and the automobile industry for ethanol
production. Consequently, both the government and automobile companies agreed to double the
production of hydrous-ethanol cars in 1981 and to increase the production of hydrous ethanol.
Although the government and the automobile industry were committed to the program's
expansion, new challenges in 1981 brought difficulties for the PNA.
As a result of the high numbers of hydrous-ethanol cars proj sections, together with new
policy instruments by the government, the production of hydrous ethanol increased from 540.6
million liters (3.4 million barrels) in 1979 to 1,128.9 million liters (7.1 million barrels) in 1980
(Pereira 150). However, the consumption of ethanol as a fuel by Brazilians between 1979 and
1980 increased from 318 million liters (2.0 million barrels) to 429.3 million liters (2.7 million
barrels) respectively (Pereira 92). The consumption of ethanol was mainly affected by the mixed
results regarding the performance of hydrous-ethanol cars. This situation hurt consumer' s
confidence towards ethanol and it also resulted in a reduction of hydrous-ethanol car sales. In
1980, 240,700 cars were sold compare to only 137,200 cars in 1981 (Pereira 55).
Towards the end of 1981, views about PNA' s effectiveness became even less positive.
Furthermore, the improvement in the world sugar prices in 1980 created uncertainty about future
supplies of sugarcane ethanol. Other events such as the temporary suspension of the sugar
export quotas and comments by policy makers in the late 1980 and early 1981 about restrains on
growth levels of raw materials and ethanol supplies, indicated possibly ethanol shortages and
created a temporary bad image for the PNA.
A Period of Adj ustment for the PNA
In this period of adjustment, from 1982 to 1985, the ethanol program began to gain back
the confidence of consumers after the program' s institutional crisis in 1979 through 1981. This
was the result of new commitments by the government, better public relations, and technological
improvements in hydrous-ethanol cars. Also, new reduction in the world sugar prices, as well as
the consumer incentives set by the government helped the PNA to become more visible again.
Other events in 1982 helped restored the confidence by Brazilians about the PNA. First of
all, according to Pereira the conversion of cars from gasohol to hydrous-ethanol increased to
about four times higher compare to 1981 as a result of the new incentives. Sales of hydrous-
ethanol cars also increased in 1982. Moreover, the production of ethanol increased by 15%
compared to 1981; which resulted in the announced by the government that the 1985 target of
10.7 million liters was deferred until 1987 to avoid overproduction. Lastly, due to lower tax
rates for consumers to purchase hydrous-ethanol cars, the vehicle's value became six to seven
percent cheaper than gasohol cars and about 40% cheaper if used as taxis (Pereira 57).
By 1984, ethanol consumption reached to about 10% of the actual demand for oil
products". This increase represented a consumption of 38 times higher compared to the early
years in 1976. This helped the Brazilian balance of payment situation by creating a foreign
exchange saving of US$1.2 billion (Brilhante 43 8). Moreover, the sale of alcohol-fuelled
vehicles kept increasing. By the end of 1984, these cars accounted for 73.5% of the total new car
sales (Table 2-3).
This third phase of the PNA also helped gain market share in the industrial sector. The
reduction in the consumption of oil products and natural gas was impressive. In 1979 the
industrial sector consumed 17.3 million tons of oil equivalent and by 1984, only 9.7 million oil
equivalent. Certainty, the use of ethanol from sugarcane as a fuel allowed Brazil to lessen its
dependence on oil and helped alleviate other economic problems. However, the PNA still
17 Consumption of ethanol reached 6.6 billion liters in 1984.
experienced difficult times due to other factors that came along during the late 1980s (Brilhante
New Challenges During the Lost Decade
By 1983, nine out of every 10 new cars sold in Brazil ran on ethanol alonels (Luhnow and
Samor). Ethanol and ethanol-powered vehicles became very popular due to government price
supports that made the fuel 35% cheaper than gasoline at the pump. However, by 1985 the PNA
was a mature program with serious problems that created new challenges for the industry and the
government. These problems were in part related to the Brazilian debt crisis that led to the dried
up sources of finance, followed by the declining international oil prices that started on 1986.
Moreover, Brazil throughout the 1980s or the "Lost Decade" was going through some
critical economic times. Factors such as the country's economic recession and high inflation; as
well as the increase of international prices of sugar, the continued fall in international prices of
oil, political struggle to balance the supply and demand for alcohol and gasoline, and cut of the
subsides to the program, created more difficult times for the PNA. According to Ogenis
Brilhante, the program went from a period of overproduction to a situation of deficit.
Furthermore, in several regions of the country the distribution system were seriously affected and
consumers had serious difficulties in getting alcohol to fill the tanks of their cars (Brilhante 43 9).
This period of new challenges for the PNA due to both domestic and external factors
created an environment of constant criticism towards the program and the government' s role. It
was a time where hyperinflation and the decrease of oil prices made very difficult for the
government to keep the ethanol price below gasoline. Government spending was also cut due to
1s The Wall Street Journal, January 9ti, 2006.
19 This was a study done by the World Bank (Kandell).
the urge by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other creditors; which led President Jose
Sarney to reduce ethanol price support.
Car production was also affected by this situation. As a result of fears by the consumers
about alcohol supplies and difficulties to obtain fuel for their ethanol-powered vehicles, ethanol
cars were affected as a percentage of new cars produced. By 1988 alcohol-powered cars
represented 63% of total new cars produced, but by 1989 and 1990 their percentage fell to 47.3%
and 10.8% respectively (Table 2-4). This was not only a crisis of supply for the PNA, but also a
crisis of consumer confidence.
Supply of ethanol was also an issue that created problems for the PNA during the late
1980s and mid 1990s. In 1995, Brazilian alcohol production did not meet the national demand.
In that year, 13.1 billion liters of alcohol were produced from 62% of the sugarcane crop and 1.8
billion liters were imported (Brilhante 441) (Table 2-5). Also in the 1990s, many distilleries
started to incorporate sugar mills into their existing installations in contrast to the period of 1975-
1979. This was a way that sugar companies continued making the fuel at reduced costs in a
period where state support dried out. Consequently, 67% of the alcohol produced in 1995 came
from annexed ethanol distilleries and 33% came from stand alone distilleries (Brilhante 439).
As the PNA struggled during the 1980s and through the mid 1990s, people skeptical of the
future of the program criticized the planning by the government. The PNA was created in a time
where oil prices were close to US$35 a barrel and a decline in prices was not foreseen. The
Brazilian government seemed to not have done enough strategic planning to control a situation in
relation to the oil market such as in the late 1980s. When oil prices were around US$20 in 1986,
the ethanol program generated a US$2.7 billion annual deficit for the governmentl9. Even
Werther Annicchino, former president of Copersucar, the largest alcohol-production corporation,
conceded that if the market were allowed to determine prices, "ethanol could not compete with
gasoline" (Kandell). However, there were also other supporters like Antonio Delfim Netto, a
former planning minister who supervised the expansion of the PNA during its expansion in 1980,
who recommended freezing production to 4 billion gallons a year and continuing research to cut
ethanol's manufacturing cost in order to become more competitive with gasoline:
If oil prices jump again as is likely in the next decade, we will (Brazil) look like geniuses
The Brazilian Economy in the 1990s
After very difficult times during the 1980s and half a century of inward-looking economic
growth, the 1990s became a period where new reforms were needed in order to put the country's
economy back on track. Even though some action took place in the late 1980s with foreign trade
liberalization and early privatization, it was not after 1990 that significant steps were taken by
the Brazilian government.
The basic recipe of reforms to battle the economic misfortunes of the country was known
as the Washington Consensus. Among the steps that were encouraged by international agencies
such as the Intemnational Monetary Fund (IMF) were: Eiscal discipline, tax reforms, providing
competitive exchange rates, securing property rights, deregulation, trade liberalization,
privatization, elimination of barriers to foreign investment and Einancial liberalization (Baumann
3). The process of reforms in the 1990s was divided in two generations. The first generation
began in the early 1990s with trade policy reforms and a movement to privatize public assets.
The second generation of reforms did not begin until 1994 and it involved social security and
administrative reforms, regulation of the Einancial sector, a series of changes in a number of
social programs, as well as more openness to foreign investment and privatization.
The immediate economic challenges of Brazil; hyperinflation and an almost bankrupt
public sector, made Fernando Collor de Mello's20 administration introduced a stabilization plan
and a set of reforms which involved some of the recommendations of the Washington
Consensus. Among the tools used in this stabilization plan were an eighteen month freeze on
almost all private sectors' financial assets, price freezes, and the abolishment of indexation21
The administration also introduced provisional taxes to deal with the fiscal crisis and closed
several public agencies in order to reduce expenditures (Baer and Mueller). At the end, the goals
behind these measures were indeed to reduce inflation and lower inflationary expectations.
Trade liberalization started in 1987 but in 1990 the government accelerated the phasing-
down of tariff rates. The average tariff in Brazil between the years 1991 to 1993 was 17.8%
compared to 33.4% between 1988 to 1990 (Baumann 8). Moreover, trade reforms in 1990 also
included the elimination of non-tariff barriers and a number of incentives to export. However,
even though President Collor de Mello implemented these new reforms, few of his programs
succeeded in the stabilization of the economy. This was mainly because of management errors
and the inability to secure political support (Baer and Mueller). Even though inflation felt by
more than 80% in March 1990, it began to increase again. In January 1991, it rose by 19.9%,
reaching 32% a month by July 1993. Together with political instability during Collor de Mello' s
two years in power, Brazil's real GDP in 1991 was 1% and -0.3% in 1992 (Baumann 10).
After President Collor de Mello impeachment in September 1992 on corr-uption charges,
Vice President Itamar Franco became President until 1994. Inflation was still a problem and in
1993 even though the economy grew again, inflation rates were higher than 30% a month. It was
20 Fernando Collor de Mello was the first post-military-regime president elected by popular vote who got to office in
21 Price adjustment which allows capital or income to take account of or benefit from inflation.
not until 1994, led by then Minister of Finance Fernando Henrique Cardoso, that the government
developed a new stabilization plan that it involved the introduction of an equilibrium budget
mandated by the National Congress, a process of general indexation, and the introduction of a
new currency, the real, pegged to the U.S. dollar. This was the beginning of the second
generation of reforms in the 1990s.
Fernando Henrique Cardoso was inaugurated President in January 1st, 1995. His
administration instituted more drastic reforms for the new stabilization plan which linked Brazil
more aggressively to the world economy. The Cardoso administration pushed for more
privatization. In 1991 to 1994 only 32 firms were privatized, providing total revenues of US$
8.6 billion (Baumann 10). This first step in privatization involved the manufacturing sector; all
relevant state-owned enterprises in steel, petrochemical, and fertilizer sector. After 1995, the
process became more significant for the country. In 1991 to 1998, the total revenues from the
privatization program were US$ 58 billion from federal government companies and US$ 29
billions from local state firms (Baumann 10)22
The recovery of domestic activity through trade liberalization and the privatization
program led to the increase of foreign direct investment (FDI). Between 1990 to 1993 flows of
FDI to Brazil were about US$ 900 million. Then between 1994 to 1998, FDI increased from
US$ 2.2 billion to US$ 26 billion respectively (Baumann 10). These new reforms helped Einance
part of the Brazilian current account deficit; however, other government programs funding were
cut in order to reduce expenditure. Among them, research and development programs were
reduced affecting the ethanol industry in the 1990s.
22According to Renato Baumann, this privatization program was among the biggest process in the world. The
reasons behind the program was indeed to improve efficiency and to improve Brazil's fiscal situation.
With the increase of foreign competition and government funding reduction, most firms in
areas such as manufacturing, energy, and agriculture underwent a process of rationalization of
production in the early 1990s in order to face the challenges of a new market economy. This
new market reforms made producers find ways to become more efficient without the assistance
of the Brazilian government in order to stay competitive:
Until the late 1980s scientific and technological policy in Brazil was concentrated in
building up infrastructure for R&D... In the 1990s the institutional structure related to
innovation and research has undergone several changes, mainly due to the reduction of the
role of federal government: in 1990 it was responsible for 73% of the investment in
research and development of new produces; in 1997 that share had been reduced to 64%
The 1990s brought a fresh start for Brazil through the reforms taken to put the economy
back in track. Even though Brazil did face more challenges late in the decade because of the
effects of the Asian Crisis in 1997, the country was able to control inflation and made significant
steps to link the country to the world economy. As a result of these new reforms, the ethanol
program also went through changes. Since funding for the ethanol program were limited due to
the new reforms in the 1990s, many producers needed to adapt to this new situation. Many
producers were able to find ways to minimize costs which continued to push the ethanol
program' s obj ectives to the 21s~t century.
Current Stage of the Ethanol Program
After a long history of success, failures, and commitments by the government, the ethanol
program in Brazil is now enjoying a very positive period. Just like Antonio Delfim Netto
mentioned back in 1989, Brazil now looks like a genius. The country is now known as the
biggest consumer and producer of ethanol in the world. As of 2005, according to Luiz Fernando
Furlan, Brazil currently has six millions hectares devoted to ethanol production from sugarcane.
However, Embrapa23 Suggests that there is the potential for up to 90 millions hectares of sugar
cane that could use for the production of ethanol. The capacity by Brazil to produce ethanol, in
addition to current high oil prices, suggests that the investment made throughout the years is
starting to bring dividends back for Brazil.
After the challenges the PNA went through up to the mid 1990s, the government made
some radical reforms for the program between 1997 and 1999. Two of the maj or reforms taken
by the government were the liberalization of the price of hydrated ethanol in 1997 and the price
liberalization of anhydrous ethanol in February 1999. Furthermore, the distribution monopoly of
ethanol given to Petrobras by the government was eliminated together with a reduction in the
subsidies for producers24. This was the beginning of a liberalized ethanol industry where the
only tool of regulation left for the Brazilian government is setting the anhydrous blend ratio to
gasoline. The actual percentage of the blend ratio is determined by the Ministry of Agriculture;
in which they now are able to have a better control between the supply and demand of sugar and
The production of ethanol in Brazil, according to Plinio Mario Nastari25, has increased
from 0.55 billion liters to 15.3 billion liters from 1975 to 2004. In 2004 alone, the production of
hydrous ethanol was 7. 12 billion liters and 8.14 billion liters of anhydrous ethanol (Nastari)
(Figure 2-1). The use of ethanol in Brazil has now become a very important part in the energy
sector on Brazil: As of 2005, 53.6% of ethanol has been used for the transportation system in
23 The Brazilian state's Agriculture Research Corporation
24 Subsidies paid to hydrous-alcohol producers were reduced from 0.98 reals per liter to 0.45 reals per liter
(Buzzanell et al. 129)
25 Representative from Datagro (Information Services on the Sugar and Ethanol Industries). This statistics were
given at a conference in the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Relations in Brasilia on December 2nd, 2004.
Brazil and as a gasoline substitute for vehicles26. This is extremely high compared to the second
largest producer of ethanol, United States, which only 2.2% of the ethanol produced is used as a
fuel. In addition, export projections of ethanol have incredible increased since 2004 due to the
high oil prices and the high demand for cheaper fuel in places like China. This situation is
already making significant contributions to Brazil's trade surplus; boosting the country's
economy and reducing its reliance on foreign oil. It is indeed a great example of how the
political will and commitment by Brazil have allowed them to become the biggest producer of a
Brazil is also taking advantage of its technology advances and its massive amount of land
for sugarcane and ethanol production. As the largest sugar producer in the world (with output of
26 million tons in 2003) and the largest producer of ethanol (EIU, "Ethanol Producers"), Brazil
has great potential to provide fuel supply to the global market. As of now, Brazil's world market
share of ethanol is currently close to 40% (a volume of 2.2 billion liters), with sales around US$
3 billion in 2004. Many countries in the world are looking for cleaner burning fuels. Japan for
instance, has introduced fuel blend with a 5% ethanol27. Russian on the other hand has agreed to
sign the Kyoto protocol, which commits countries to limit its local emission levels. Brazil has
indeed the resources at a low cost to satisfy this ethanol demand in the world.
Other investment opportunities and new automobile technology are making ethanol
attractive for different companies. Companies such as Crystalsev, a major sugar and ethanol
producer in Brazil is betting on the high demand of ethanol in Brazil and the rest of the world.
For instance, Crystalsey has invested in El Salvador by building a distillery with a capacity of
26 20% of Brazif s total transport fuel market (Luhnow and Samor)
27 Brazil currently mandates a 20% blend of ethanol with gasoline.
200 million liters a year to take advantage of trade agreements such as CAFTA-DR and obtain
market access in the United States. Eduardo Pereira de Carvalho, president of the Sho Paulo
Sugarcane Agroindustry Union (UNICA) estimates that demand of ethanol in the United States
will rise to 10 billion liters by 2010 ("Caribe Atrai"). This will present great opportunities for
The automobile industry is also making impressive advances in Brazil by taking
advantages of the ethanol production. In contrast to the early hydrous-powered vehicles in the
1980s; the automobile industry has invested in flex-fuel technology. This technology is able to
make cars run on either pure hydrous ethanol or gasoline blended with anhydrous ethanol.
Fernando Damasceno, chief engineer at the Brazilian unit of Italian car parts company Magneti
Marelli, created a device able to calculate the mixture of ethanol versus gasoline in the tank and
adjust the engine accordingly (Luhnow and Samor). This device was sold to Volkswagen in
2002, which later introduced its first flex-fuel Gol. Five maj or car makers in Brazil are now
producing flex fuel cars28. In 2004, the first full year of flex-fuel cars out in the market,
accounted for more than 17% of the Brazilian market. Indeed, ethanol has become a major
industry in the Brazilian economy and the government has played a very important role for its
With the arrival of the first oil shock in 1973, Brazil was forced to look for policies able to
reduce its dependence of oil. By 1974, Brazil imported about 80% of its fuel and about 40% of
its foreign-exchange income was used for oil import bills (Luhnow and Samor). As a result of
28Ford Brazil has just introduced a small flex-fuel SUV called Ecosport
the challenges faced by Brazil, General Ernesto Geisel opted for an expansionist policy in order
to keep the economy from a recession and in November 1975 the PNA was created.
From the start of this program, the government played an important role as it implemented
different government tools to support the PNA. However, Brazil went through difficult
economic transitions and new economic policies which put the ethanol program throughout a
variety of stages. Since the 1970s, Brazil experienced two oils shocks, a period during the 1980s
known as the "Lost Decade", economic reforms during the 1990s, and a financial crisis in 1998.
Today Brazil positioned itself as one of the most important economies in Latin America, as well
as a leader in the world economy. The ethanol program has been a part of this Brazilian
experience during the last three decades through the different mechanism the government have
implemented at times for the development of the program. Today, ethanol not only have helped
Brazil to reduce oil imports, but it is estimated that the country have saved about US$ 69 billion
that would have been use to buy oil from areas like the Middle East (Lashinsky and Schwartz).
Currently, ethanol is looked upon developed and developing countries as an alternative fuel that
will alleviate the world's addiction of oil and will create benefits for the environment. Ethanol
demand has dramatically increased and Brazil is making the investments necessary to meet
global demand. Even countries like India and China have sent top officials to Brazil to gather
more information about the ethanol program. India, which is the world's second biggest sugar
producer after Brazil, mandated in 2003 that nine of its states add a five percent ethanol mix to
gas (Luhnow and Samor). Other countries such as Japan have done similar policies. In the
United States, even though ethanol currently has an import tariff of US$ 0.54 cents per gallon
from Brazil, some politicians as well as the Brazilian government have been lobbying to remove
the tariff in order to create an ethanol global market and to create more competition in the U.S. to
speed up ethanol production by local producers.
Although government involvement with the ethanol program in Brazil has been reduced
since 1997, the role of the Brazilian government in the past cannot be disregard. Since 1975, the
goal of this program has been to become what it is today. The idea that ethanol is now a
legitimate alternative fuel or that 7 out of 10 new cars sold in Brazil are flex-fuel, is indeed an
accomplishment that the supporters of the ethanol program and Brazilian government officials
had in mind. The following chapter covers the different government policies such as price
policies, tax incentives, and financing programs implemented in Brazil to encourage the
production and consumption of sugarcane based ethanol as an alternative fuel.
.\ I I/
Year Exports Imports Trade Balance Current
1970 2,739.0 2,507.0 232.0 -562.0
1971 2,904.0 3,245.0 -341.0 -1,037.0
1972 3,991.0 4,235.0 -244.0 -1,489.0
1973 6,199.0 6,192.9 7.0 -1,688.0
1974 7,951.0 12,641.3 -4,690.3 -7,122.4
1975 8,669.9 12,210.3 -3,540.3 -6,700.2
1976 10, 128.3 12,383.0 -2,254.7 -6,017.1
1977 12,120.1 12,023.0 97.10 -4,037.3
1978 12,658.9 13,683.1 -1,024.1 -6,990.4
1979 15,244.4 18,083.1 -2,838.7 -10,741.6
1980 20,133.9 22,954.0 -2,821.00 -12,807.0
Source: Werner Baer, 2001
Table 2-2. Economic Indicators (1974 -1982)
Year Real GNP Gross Balance of Oil Imports Oil Imports
Growth (%) Foreign Payments (US$ as % of
Debt (US$ (US$ million) Exports
1974 9.8 17,166 -4,690 2,969 35.3
1975 5.7 21,171 -3,540 3,100 32.7
1976 9.0 25,985 -2,255 3,842 35.0
1977 4.7 32,037 97 4,080 31.5
1978 6.0 43,511 -1,024 4,483 33.0
1979 6.4 49,904 -2,840 6,773 42.0
1980 8.0 53,847 -2,829 9,800 47.2
1981 4.5 61,410 -500 10,600 45.5
1982 0 69,650 780 9,570 47.4
Source: Armand Pereira, 1986
Table 2-1 Brazilian Bal )
Table 2-4. Production of Ethanol Powered Cars in Brazil (as a Percentage of New Cars
Source: Anfavea 1996
CI -. yU~ I~I ILVIIUI l IC~LLIIV U /J
Year Total Car Sales Sales of Hydrous Share of Hydrous
(thousand) Ethanol Cars Ethanol Cars (%)
1974 854.2 0 0
1975 931.5 0 0
1976 974.6 0 0
1977 908.6 0 0
1978 1067.3 0 0
1979 1121.2 0 0
1980 1010.6 240.7 24
1981 635.1 137.2 22
1982 691.3 235.1 34
1983 730.5 585.2 80
or uuce )u
Years Production (Number of Percentage of New
Cars) Cars Produced
1979 3,328 0.4
1980 239,251 25.6
1981 120,934 20.6
1982 214,406 31.9
1983 549,550 73.4
1984 496,653 73.1
1985 573,383 75.5
1986 619,854 76.0
1987 388,321 56.8
1988 492,967 63.0
1989 345,605 47.3
1990 71,523 10.8
1991 128,857 18.3
1992 163,127 20.0
1993 227,684 20.7
1994 120,177 9.6
1995 32,628 2.5
1996 7,200 0.6
Table 2-3 Sales of Co 4
Source: Armand Pereira, 1986
Table 2-5. Brazilian Ethanol Production (1995/1996)
13.1 billion liters of ethanol were produced from 62% of the cane crop:
-67% was produced at 170 annexed distilleries (associated with sugar mills)
-33% was produced at 140 distilleries not associated with sugar mills
-3.5 billion liters were anhydrous ethanol
-9.6 billion liters were hydrous ethanol
85.5% of the ethanol produced came from the centre-south region of Brazil:
-7.9 billion liters were produced at annexed ethanol distilleries
-3.3 billion liters were produced at distilleries not associated with sugar mills
14.5% of the ethanol produced came from the north-northeast region of Brazil:
-0.9 billion liters were produced at annexed ethanol distilleries
-1.0 billion liters were produced at distilleries not associated with sugar mills
1.8 billion liters were imported to meet national demand
Source: Ogenis Brilhante, 1997
O AM mesm Bdms
Figure 2-1. Brazilian Ethanol Production (1975 -2004) (million of liters). Source: Plinio Mario
Policy instruments are essential tools used to promote different government initiatives. In
countries like Brazil and the United States, policies can be implemented by the federal, state, or
local government. Policies are a plan of action that governments employ to pursue the
population or businesses to follow mandates to obtain results such as higher revenues through
fiscal policies or to control aspects of an economy through regulatory policies.
Policy instruments are vital to promote alternative fuel use. The government has in
different policy options that can be used to establish rules to develop new technologies.
However, these mandates or regulations need to be well designed in order to attract both the
population and the private industry to an alternative fuel program. Government officials can
create policies to impact both the supply-side and demand-side of an industry. In the case of
ethanol, if incentives are created for producers to make fuel, but the car industry does not
produce cars able to run with ethanol, then the program would result in a failure. At the same
time, if policies are targeted to make consumers and car companies use new technology, but both
ethanol producers and distributors do not deliver the fuel, the program will not be able to take
off. In the end, government policies to promote ethanol as an alternative fuel source need to
encompass all important players of the economy in order to create a market for the fuel. The
policies must target both the demand and supply side, with Einancial and non-financial incentives
to make the program a success.
This chapter focuses on the policies available for a government when promoting alternative
fuel programs. Since there are a variety of policy tools available for governments, it is important
to understand the most effective policies available. In addition, this chapter discusses the
policies implemented by the Brazilian government over the last thirty years of the PNA.
Government Policy Options
Different policy options are available for governments to regulate or to promote alternative
fuel programs. When designing policies, three target groups need to be taken into account:
producers to create improvements in the technology, consumers in order to change their behavior
towards alternative fuels, and distributors in order to make the fuel available. All policy
instruments and incentives designed by the government need to affect both the demand and
supply side of the industry by affecting these three players. This would result in the creation of a
market for the alternative fuel.
Two of the main tools available are regulatory and fiscal policies. According to Winston
and Crandall, regulatory policies control the entry conditions in a given market (Crandall and
Winston 5). Another definition, according to L.R. Jones, is that regulatory policies are an
imposition by governments of rules intended to modify the behavior of individuals, groups, units
of government, and the private sector (Jones 328). On the other hand, fiscal policies according
to David Weil are "... the use of the government budget to affect an economy" (Weil). For
example, the government engages in fiscal policy when it collects taxes to purchase goods and
Supply side policies or those policies oriented towards producers and distributors include
technology development programs, fiscal measures such as tax breaks, subsidies to cover
production costs, and regulatory policies such as environmental regulations. Consumers are also
a vital part for the success. The government needs to create policies that can increase the
demand side for the alternative fuel. For instance, in order to control the demand for
conventional fuel and promote alternative fuels, the state can create fiscal incentives for
consumers when buying the new fuel or when buying manufactured goods with higher energy
performance standards. The results of consumer oriented policies can increase demand for new
fuels, new energy-efficient goods, and create a successful market for new technologies.
Producer and Distributor Oriented Policies
Regulatory policies are tools used to mandate private industries to produce more energy-
efficient goods or new alternative fuels. These policies can be in various forms including
constitutional amendments, decrees, statutes, executive orders, legislative resolutions, publicly
approved initiatives, and other forms. The idea behind regulatory policies is to control
businesses and to change their behavior in the private sector (Jones 329). However, in a market
economy, regulations should be imposed by the state to monitor the economy and not to control
it. An authoritarian imposition of new regulations can result in a reduction of foreign investment
that can eventually hurt the economy.
Environmental regulations are a tool created to handle and control industrial waste and
other emissions for environmental purposes. These are regulatory policies that can be designed
to make producers use new sources of fuels. For instance, gasoline-powered cars still remain the
largest source of air pollution due to the continue increase of its production (Brilhante 439). The
rapid increase in the number of cars, especially in large metropolitan areas, has created severe
issues regarding air quality. Governments are able to make legislation aimed at the reduction of
air pollution by implementing regulations to make cars more fuel efficient or power engines with
alternative fuels such as natural gas or ethanol. As a result, environmental regulations serve as
an important tool capable of controlling industrial waste pushing companies to developed more
energy-efficient technology for the future.
Producer and distributor oriented fiscal policies are also necessary to impact the supply
side of the industry. These can include government financing for production, subsidies to reduce
production costs, tax benefits, or government spending towards infrastructure. In alternative fuel
programs, high start-up costs to produce new technologies can be a disincentive for many
businesses. Governments get involved in the development of ethanol by providing low interest
rate loans or subsidies for proj ects involving construction of di stilleries or purchase of raw
materials. Since vehicles able to operate with alternative fuels are also vital for the success of an
alternative fuel program, companies can use tax benefits to engage in research on production of
new car technologies.
By investing in infrastructure and alternative fuel programs in a responsible manner, the
government employs fiscal policy to send positive signals to consumers and other private
investors. Therefore, when analyzing the development of alternative fuel programs, heavy
investment capital needs to be available to produce new technologies and to create a reliable
distribution system. In order to help companies and distributors achieve these goals,
governments can opt to give subsidies to cover production costs. These expansionary fiscal tools
by the government can be of great benefit for companies to cover their start-up costs and adapt
the infrastructure in pump stations for new alternative fuels.
Consumer oriented policies are also necessary to develop an alternative fuel program. For
instance, initiatives towards improving mass transportation in maj or cities or creating regulatory
transit laws to increase activities such as carpooling can be put in place to promote conservation
of energy. This type of policies can change people' s commuting behavior. However, regulatory
and fiscal polices are vital to reduce people' s energy bills and to impact consumer' s behavior
towards alternative fuels. There is not one policy that can be adopted to solve these energy
challenges. A mix of policies combined with Einancial and non-financial incentives are needed
in order to promote alternative fuels.
Price controls can serve as a regulatory policy intended to increase consumer demand of
new fuels. By establishing or guaranteeing lower prices compared to conventional gasoline
prices, the government would directly affect the market by creating a more economical option
for consumers. This is indeed a regulation that may have a high price tag for the government or
fuel companies if the fuel has to be subsidized, but in current times where oil have reached over
US$ 60 a barrel, increase in the demand for alternative fuels can be seen without engaging in
Fiscal policies can also form part of a mix of policies oriented towards consumers.
According to Robert Crandall, there are fiscal policies that directly affect automobile ownership
such as higher gasoline taxes that are more effective than those designed to shift people to
energy-efficient alternatives (Crandall 20). A gasoline tax is an indirect duty that is collected
from citizens by vendors selling or distributing the fuel (Denison and Eger 165). If a gasoline
tax is increased, which would result in higher prices of gasoline, consumers will tend to look for
cheaper alternatives. With this in mind, fiscal policies such as higher taxes on gasoline can be an
instrument that governments can implement to change consumer behavior to increase demand for
Fiscal policies allow the government to make decisions such as tax cuts in order to raise
disposable income for the population. One way to implement efficient fiscal policies is for the
government to set lower tax rates for alternative fuels in order to make consumers switch. This
can also be applied towards manufactured goods such as cars. Lower tax rates to purchase flex-
fuel vehicles for example will make consumers be more inclined to buy them.
When promoting alternative fuel programs, consumer and producer oriented policies can
be of great advantage for the government. New rules can be set by the federal, state, or local
government in order to push companies to invest in new technologies and change the behavior of
the population to start consuming other energy sources. All these policies can benefit alternative
fuel programs by increasing the use of more energy-efficient technologies, rising fuel efficiency
standards on manufactured goods, regulating greenhouse emissions to protect the environment,
and increasing the demand of new fuels to create an efficient market.
Brazilian Ethanol Policies
When the PNA was created in 1975, the Brazilian government had enough power to put in
practice a set of policies designed to promote the program. Brazil's government in the 1970s and
1980s was a military government and central player in the nation's economy. It had various
policy tools and powers at its disposal which brought both intended and unintended
consequences to the country. In order to maintain high levels of economic growth rates after the
first oil shock in 1973, the government's main priority was to guarantee the energy supply in
order to prevent a slow down in energy consumption. As a result, the government opted to
create an alternative fuel program providing Einancial support and Einancial incentives for its
development. Financial incentives were the main tools available for the building of distilleries to
produce ethanol even though production costs for ethanol were higher than for gasoline.
Brazil intensified ethanol development program after the second oil shock in 1979. With
new policies, the goal of the PNA was to reduce the country's reliance on foreign energy sources
by increasing domestic energy production, of which ethanol was a key component. The result
was the creation of a more broad mix of policies and mandates intended for both producers and
consumers to increase ethanol production and consumption. The efforts and policies
implemented after the second oil shock reinforced the importance of the ethanol program for
Brazilians. Regulatory agencies, Eiscal, and regulatory policies were created to support the
program throughout its development phase. These policies included various Einancial and non-
financial incentives that allowed producers and consumers to buy into the new technology. The
idea behind the government' s support was to increase supply and use of ethanol by reducing
production costs and making the price lower than conventional gasoline.
Towards the end of the 1990s, Brazil faced new economic challenges that brought new
changes to the PNA. By 1997, the government support that allowed the ethanol industry to
develop was mostly eliminated. Producers had to adapt to these changes and the government
took another role for the industry. The policy evolution in Brazil towards the ethanol program
over the last three decades has created different results. However, it is important to notice that
all the players of this industry have been able to adapt to changes and today the industry
experiences great success.
When the second oil shock occurred in 1979, the Brazilian government decided to enlarge
the PNA by providing more support to ethanol producers and creating government agencies to
manage the program. Two state-run agencies played vital roles in implementing the PNA: The
Institute of Sugar and Alcohol (IAA) and Petrobras.
The IAA' s role as a state enterprise was to control the production of sugar and ethanol
through production quotas or by purchasing programs. In 1979, the IAA purchased anhydrous
ethanol at an equivalency rate of 44 liters of alcohol per 60 kilogram bag of sugar (Buzzanell et
al. 127). Also, the IAA administered loans at low fixed interest rates for projects involving the
construction of distilleries and autonomous ethanol plants.
In 1979, the Brazilian government of General Joho Baptista Figueiredo ordered the state-
run oil company Petrobras to make ethanol available at all its filling stations. Petrobras also had
the main responsibility of guaranteeing the supply of ethanol around the country. The
distribution of ethanol through Petrobras was important in building the confidence of Brazilian
consumers. The government needed to make sure that ethanol was available at filling stations all
over the country in order to promote this fuel alternative. This mandate by the military
government showed to consumers the importance of ethanol for Brazil's future. This type of
policy would be more difficult to pursue in countries like the United States, where the executive
would need support by other branches of the government and distribution of fuel is through
The policies implemented through these two agencies guaranteed higher prices for sugar
and other crops used in ethanol production compared to other agriculture crops (Brilhante 43 8).
In a way, everyone involved in the production of ethanol was assured a profit from their
investments. In addition, since ethanol prices were set by the government to be lower than
gasoline, consumers bought ethanol to avoid the high cost of gasoline. These agencies were
responsible for the growth of ethanol production post 1979 (Appendix B).
Brazil has used regulatory policies to shape the ethanol program by making private
companies follow rules in order to create a market for ethanol. In addition, through these
regulatory policies more cooperation among the government, the sugar and car industry was
created to establish ethanol as a reliable fuel. All these groups were committed to the ethanol
program by following the regulations and using the government incentives. Throughout the last
three decades, Brazil has adopted four important regulatory policies for the promotion and
development of ethanol as a fuel: blend ratios with gasoline, price policies, production quotas,
and environmental regulations.
The blend ratio determines the mix between anhydrous ethanol and conventional gasoline
in order to produce gasohol. Since the beginning of the PNA, anhydrous ethanol was produced
to be mixed with conventional gasoline. In 1975, President Ernesto Geisel ordered that the
country's gasoline supply be mixed with 10% ethanol (Luhnow and Samor). Today, this ratio is
set by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply (MAPA) every year in order to
balance the relationship between the supply and demand of sugar and ethanol (Koizumi). These
ratios depend on the price of sugar, demand for ethanol, and the price of oil in the international
markets (Buzzanell et al. 129). In May 2001, the Brazilian government increased the blend ratio
from the 2000 level of 20% to 22% due to the increase in ethanol production. Then in January
2002, the government raised it again to 24%. As of January 2006, the ratio was lowered to 20%
anhydrous ethanol because of the higher demand of ethanol and the increase of international
price of sugar.
The relationship of sugar and oil prices, as well as the demand for ethanol, is vital for
determining how the government sets blend ratios. Since 1997, the blend ratio has been the one
tool implemented by the government to control ethanol production in Brazil. For instance, in
early 2006 the blend ratio was lowered from 25% to 20% ethanol. There were various issues that
influenced the government' s decision. The most important one was the fact that raw sugar prices
reached a 25 year high in January 2006. According to the New York Board of Trade, raw sugar
climbed to 17.15 cents (US$) a pound which was the highest market close since 1981 (Dawn). A
maj or influence in the increase in the price of raw sugar has been Brazil's increasing use of
sugarcane as raw material to produce ethanol. Therefore, Brazilian producers have been inclined
to sell raw sugar at the international market for sugar production. At the same time, demand for
ethanol is still soaring due to the high oil prices. In order to assured a reliable supply of ethanol
for the domestic market, the Brazilian government needed to reduce the blend ratio for this year
(Table 3-1). The blend ratio has created an important domestic ethanol market in Brazil.
Although ethanol prices have been deregulated since 1997, this regulatory policy instrument
remains in place to allow the government to still influence the magnitude of demand for ethanol
and thus guarantee the market for ethanol producers.
Under the National Alcohol Council's guidelines, the IAA established the price of both
sugarcane and ethanol. All the ethanol and sugar that was produced in Brazil was purchased by
the government at prices above cost29. Using public funds, the government paid producers at
prices that varied according to the type and usage, and they were set at parity with sugar prices.
In 1981, ethanol was set at an average of 38 liters per 60 kilogram bag of sugar (Pereira 51).
The price of hydrous ethanol at the pump was also managed by the Brazilian government
to guarantee lower prices to the consumers. The policy set hydrous ethanol at 60% to 65% that
of gasoline or gasohol. These prices were the same throughout the country, making it accessible
for every Brazilian. In 1989, a gallon of hydrous ethanol cost US$ 1.27 per gallon compared
with US$ 1.70 per gallon of gasoline (Kandell). As a result, the price policy implemented by the
military government in 1979 gave it the flexibility to increase or decrease consumer prices of
gasohol and hydrous ethanol when necessary. This policy worked as a very important incentive
for ethanol producers as well as consumers and assured profits for all those producers linked to
the industry and savings for those who consumed it. This policy tool was indeed a driver for the
The production quotas stipulated by the IAA under the National Alcohol Council in 1979
was a policy that allowed the government to control the supply of sugar and ethanol for domestic
29 Prices were readjusted every six months (Pereira 51)
and foreign demands. The IAA had the responsibility to determine the quotas for sugar and
ethanol production for each sugar mill and distillery. These quotas were set depending on the
international demand for sugar and the International Sugar Agreement (ISA). Sugar and ethanol
producers were not allowed to exceed their quotas under any circumstances unless it was
authorized by the IAA or international sugar prices increased beyond the ISA requirements
Deregulation of sugar and ethanol production in 1997 brought the end to production
quotas. Today through regulatory policies such as blend ratios and environmental regulations,
the Brazilian government acts as a regulator to many aspects of the economy. The end of
production quotas and government control of the sugar and ethanol industry exposed all
producers in a market economy. This situation forced producers to become more efficient by
reducing costs without the control or support of the Brazilian government.
Brazil suffers from pollution, especially in its large urban cities. Sho Paulo, for example,
has severe air quality problems due to the number of vehicles circulating as well as the high
number of industries concentrated in its surroundings. During the late 1970s and throughout the
1980s, Brazil has tried to improve its cities' air quality by introducing regulations such as
emission control devices in vehicles manufactured in Brazil and implementing the distribution of
anhydrous and hydrous ethanol. These environmental policies were designed to alleviate the
pollution by promoting clean renewable sources such as ethanol.
Today other environmental challenges have affected Brazil. One of them is the pollution
that has taken place from the ethanol production. Burning of sugarcane fields is conducted
before harvesting to eliminate pests and remove weeds. However, the burning has created high
quantities of greenhouse gases, ash, and other airborne particulates that have affected air
qualities not only in urban areas but also in rural areas. As a result, some regulations at different
levels of the government have been created to deal with this problem. One regulation
implemented in September 2002 was the law 1 1.241/02 of the State of Sho Paulo. This law was
designed to change burning techniques in areas suitable for the replacement of manual harvest
with mechanical harvest. It required that the burning of sugarcane be reduced to 20% of the
harvested area in 2002, to 30% by the fifth year, 50% by 2011, 80% by 2016, and 100% of the
harvested area by 2021 (Martines-Filho et al.). There are some exceptions to the law in which
areas with a slope of 12% or more were allowed burning in grounds because mechanized
harvesting would have been impossible (Martines-Filho et al.). This situation became an
unintended result from the implementation of different regulatory policies to promote ethanol
Another regulation implemented and approved by the Federal Govemnment requires
investors to obtain licenses to install and operate sugar mills. This ability allows the government
to choose the locations of the sugar mills. Hence, the federal government has given licenses to
companies to develop sugar mills in rural areas in the north of the country to create new sources
of employment and alleviate the environmental issues in industrial states such as Sho Paulo.
These policies have been of benefit for the government to manage environmental issues and
provide jobs in rural areas especially in the north. However, much more still needs to be done
since Brazil still has a long way to go to control the various environmental challenges. As the
country continues to expand the ethanol industry, more policies should be implemented by
legislators in order to deal with these challenges.
Fiscal policies have being a vital instrument for the Brazilian government throughout the
history of the ethanol program. The different incentives provided by the state allowed sugar
producers and automobile companies to produce ethanol fuel and ethanol-powered vehicles in an
era of high and low oil prices. Financing policies such as low interest loans for the construction
of distilleries, tax breaks for the purchase of ethanol-powered vehicles, or lower tax rates for
hydrous or anhydrous ethanol were the most significant tools that helped both producers and
consumers to turn to ethanol.
The financing that the Brazilian government provided to producers also helped the ethanol
industry. This policy instrument was vital in the early stages of the PNA for producers since it
financed new distilleries and sugarcane cultivation. However, it is important to point out that
these loans were given in a time where the Brazilian economy experienced high inflation rates.
Funds for the ethanol program consisted of low interest loans for investment at negative real
interest rates due to high inflation rates. The life of these loans was usually 15 years with 3 years
of grace period. With high levels of public debt and the elimination of foreign borrowing after
1982, the Brazilian government financed much of its deficit by printing money. Inflation rates
years prior to the first oil shock were below 20%. By the end of 1985 inflation went up to almost
250% (Durevall 423). This chronic inflation COntinued throughout the 1980s; reaching a record
of 366% in 1987 ("New Brazil").
From the beginning of the PNA until 1981, loans given by the government covered up to
80% of industrial investments in sugarcane distilleries. The nominal interest rates on these loans
varied from 2% to 6%31 (Pereira 52). Loans given for agriculture investments associated with
30 Dick Durevall explains that high and persistent inflation of the kind experienced by Brazil in the 1980s is labeled
chronic inflation (Durevall 423).
31 The interest rates of the loans depended on the type of distillery and location. The rates also had partial
adjustment for inflation.
ethanol proj ects covered 60 to 100% of the total, at nominal interest rates between 15% and 29%
depending on the farm size and it was not adjusted for inflation (Pereira 52).
After 1981 the government made changes to this policy. Due to the increasing inflation
during the early 1980s, the interest rates were raised but they were still negative in real terms. In
1982, the nominal interest rates were raised between 45% to 55% depending on its location
(Pereira 52). Loans for industrial investments covered up to 70% to 80% depending on the type
of distillery and up to 90% if owned by cooperatives. Loans for agricultural investments related
to ethanol production continued to cover 60% to 100% with nominal interest rates of 35% to
45% depending on the location of the proj ects (Pereira 52). The increase of interest rates on
these loans did not affect producers due to the high rates of inflation. These subsidized
government loans allowed investors to obtain the capital needed for the building of sugar mills
that today are still producing important amounts of ethanol. Although the government was
losing money on the loans, the policy turned to be of great benefit for investors and the ethanol
program. This Einancing policy brought positive results to the PNA even though back in the
1980s was hard to justify.
Ethanol vehicles taxation
Taxation is one of the most effective fiscal policies available for the government. Both
companies and consumers can take advantage of the disposable income created from tax breaks
in order to produce or consume new technologies. Brazil has utilized vehicle taxation policies
since 1979 to make ethanol vehicles more attractive. Car companies in 1979 were given tax
brakes for just having ethanol powered vehicles in their showrooms. Consumers were also given
tax benefits as a fiscal incentive when purchasing these cars. In 1979 the Italian auto maker Fiat
offered its first ethanol fueled car (Luhnow and Samor). Then in 1980, every domestic and
foreign car company produced and sold ethanol powered cars to the Brazilian market. By 1983,
nine out of every 10 new cars sold in Brazil ran on pure ethanol fuel (Plummer).
The tax incentives have helped ethanol become such of important alternative fuel. Both
producers and consumers have taken advantage of these tax brakes in order to produce and
obtain the fuel and vehicles at lower prices in a time where oil prices have continued to increase.
Throughout the history of the PNA, this policy instrument has allowed producers to make the
necessary investments in the technology. Moreover, consumers have also been able to make the
transition to ethanol with these tax breaks to the point that ethanol now accounts for more than
40% of the fuel Brazilians consume (Lashinsky and Schwartz).
Today Brazil produces three different types of car engines or internal combustion
engineS32. There are the ones that are fueled with conventional gasoline, hydrous ethanol, and
flex-fuel33 vehicles. Hydrous ethanol powered cars or flex-fuel cars are given an IPI34 tax
incentive. According to the Brazilian tax structure, depending on the size of the engine, a regular
or reduced tax rate is imposed (Table 3-2).
The success of the ethanol program can also be attributed to the incentives provided by the
tax breaks given to ethanol and flex-fuel vehicles. Since 2003 ethanol sales have increased
dramatically after the introduction of flex-fuel vehicles. These cars are able to gauge the ethanol
and gasoline ratio on the tank and adjust fuel inj section and cylinder compression automatically
(Barros and Perkins 2). This arrangement allows the consumer to buy gasoline at any blend ratio
32The Italian car manufacture Fiat has also introduced a model named the Siena Tetra Fuel. This car can run on
100% hydrous ethanol, gasohol, conventional gasoline, or natural gas.
33These cars were introduced in March 2003. Consumers can choose the cheapest fuel available since the cars can
be fueled with conventional gasoline, hydrous ethanol, or gasohol (mix of anhydrous ethanol and conventional
34 The IPI is a federal tax imposed to industrialized goods
or pure ethanol depending on the relative price, without hampering the performance of the car.
The efficient tax policies towards these vehicles have made these cars more than popular. The
policy was aimed at both the supply-side and demand-side in order to create a successful market
for the fuel. Today, not only the cars receive favorable tax treatment, but consumers can also
obtain the fuel at favorable tax rates at virtually all gas stations in the country thanks to the well
established distribution center and infrastructure to handle ethanol.
Fuel taxation is a policy that the Brazilian government has used to directly affect drivers.
Since much of the fuel taxes are reflected on the price of the fuel, this policy has indeed created
incentives that have made ethanol fuel more attractive. The federal and state taxes imposed to
fuels differ for gasoline and ethanol. Currently, these differential taxes act to support the
demand for ethanol at the expose of gasoline. In Brazil, there are four different taxes applied to
fuels; three federal taxes and one state tax that varies in every state:
* CIDE: Federal tax (used to finance infrastructure works and maintenance of transportation
* COFINS: Federal tax for social security programs
* PIS: Federal tax for social development programs
* ICMS: State tax applied on goods and services (varies between 12% to 31%) (Table 3-3)
Since its price started to be determined by the market in 1997, the favorable tax treatment
for ethanol at the filling pumps is the biggest incentives for consumers. The Brazilian
government imposes higher rates for gasoline than for ethanol under its CIDES, PIS, and
COFINS programs. The difference between gasoline and ethanol taxes was estimated at
approximately 0.30 reals35 per liter in October 2005 (Barros and Perkins 3). Moreover, each
state has the right to assess tax brakes for the use of ethanol under its ICMS tax program. In Sho
Paulo for example, ethanol had a tax advantage of approximately 0.50 reals per liter compared to
gasoline in October 200536
This policy together with the current increase in gas prices, has created a significant rise in
the demand for ethanol in the last six years (Barros and Perkins 3). It has become more effective
than any other policy implemented since it directly affects automobile ownership. The
consumers are the group that untimely needs to buy the fuel in order to make alternative fuel
programs successful. In Brazil, the fuel taxation policy has been one of the most effective tools
because it has changed the behavior of consumers towards buying ethanol as their fuel source.
Other important fiscal tools
Funding for research was also among the mix of fiscal policies created by the Brazilian
government. The government's spending towards ethanol was part of the expansionary policy
taken since the creation of the PNA. According to the Wall Street Joumnal, the Brazilian
government funded Urbano Emesto Stumpf, a researcher at the Brazilian Air Force Laboratory
who concentrated on the development of a car that would run only on ethanol (Luhnow and
Samor). Mr. Stumpf developed three ethanol powered cars that in November 1976 embarked on
a 5,000 mile trip from the air force's research lab in the southeastern state of Sho Paulo to
Manaus. The funding for research by the government allowed for the investigation of more
efficient vehicles powered with ethanol in Brazil. Today, flex-fuel vehicles are the latest result of
the research done throughout the last three decades in Brazil.
35According to the latest indicators from EIUT Viewswire, the average exchange rate of Real/Dollar in the 4th quarter
of 2005 was 2.25.
36 Prices at filling pumps for ethanol were 1.14 reals per liter and 2.22 reals per liter of gasoline in October 2005
(Barros and Perkins 3).
The "New" PNA
The first ethanol-only vehicles were tough to start on cold mornings. Sugar mills
responded to high world sugar prices in the late 1980s by producing more sugar and less
ethanol, resulting in fuel shortages that left drivers fuming and seriously dented the
program's reputation for reliability (Lynch).
High inflation, ethanol producers' debt, changes in the political environment with the
civilian government in 1985, and cuts in funding for the PNA hurt the credibility of the ethanol
program in Brazil. At the beginning of the 1980s, Brazil faced several macroeconomic issues
that put the country's economy in a vulnerable position. After the Mexican debt crisis in 1982,
Brazil was unable to Einance its current-account deficit through external borrowing. The crisis
dried up the sources of Einancing and the PNA started to see cuts on its funding. In addition,
other factors affected the ethanol program. Oil prices fell from their 1970s highs, international
sugar prices increased, and Petrobras discovered new offshore oilfields which made Brazil more
self sufficient in oil. These factors all together made it costly for the government to continued
supporting the ethanol and sugar industry.
The program went from a stage of overproduction to deficit. In 1990, the government was
forced to import ethanol for the first time to meet national demand (Brilhante 439). This
situation affected the distribution of ethanol in several areas of the country and consumers had
difficulties finding ethanol. The production of ethanol powered cars in 1990 declined from
47.3% of new cars produced to only 10.8% (Table 2-4). Indeed, the macroeconomic and
political problems of the 1980s and early 1990s in Brazil brought a sense of failure for the PNA.
In 1987, an energy economist from the University of Sho Paulo criticized the government for
wanting to keep the ethanol program: "There is no plausible economic explanation for the
alcohol program" (Kandell)
The role and support of the government drastically declined during the 1990s as the
country ran into more budget deficits and it continued to experienced high inflation rates. Then
in 1994 oil prices dropped to its lowest level since 1973 (Williams). This situation created
ethanol shortages throughout the country. In 1995, the Brazilian ethanol production did not meet
national demand. In that same year, 13.1 billion liters were produced and 1.8 billion liters of
ethanol were imported (Table 2-5). As a way to respond to these challenges, many distilleries in
the 1990s started to incorporate sugar mills into their existing installations (Brilhante 439). This
began a new phase for the ethanol industry in the 1990s. Ethanol producers needed to become
more efficient since government support was significantly reduced. Datagro, a Brazilian
consulting firm, estimated that the government spent at least US$ 16 billion in 2005 dollars37
from 1979 to the mid 1990s (Luhnow and Samor). This total included loans to sugar companies,
ethanol plants, and the price support system for the fuel.
With the growing problems the government was facing during the 1990s to support the
PNA, it was time to make changes. During the period of 1997 to 1999, the Brazilian government
made radical reforms towards the ethanol program. In 1997 for instance, the price of hydrous
ethanol was decontrolled. Then in February 1st, 1999, anhydrous ethanol was also decontrolled
and the mandate given to Petrobras in the distribution and sell of the fuel was eliminated.
Moreover, subsidies to ethanol producers were reduced significantly. According to the U.S.
Department of Agriculture' s estimates, subsidies paid to hydrous ethanol producers were reduced
from 0.98 reals per liter to 0.45 reals per liter (Buzzanell et al. 129). Subsidies paid to anhydrous
producers were eliminated in 1999.
37 The estimate does not include the foregone revenue from tax breaks as well as other consumer cost.
The government's role changed from instigator to a market supervisor. Currently, there
are no restrictions on ethanol production and exports, but the government still sets the blend ratio
of anhydrous ethanol to gasoline every year. The "new" PNA left behind much of its policies to
turn into a program based on free market economics. As a sugarcane powerhouse, the Brazilian
government finally let its industry develop into an even more efficient one by deregulating its
production. Even though this deregulation was forced by various economic factors, it greatly
reduced the role of the government of the central planner of the PNA. At the end, free market
policies towards the ethanol program have allowed it to become an even more important model
for the rest of the world.
Ethanol as a fuel alternative in Brazil is the result of hard work and commitment by both
the Brazilian government and the private sector. In the last three decades, the policy instruments
used by the government paved a road of success for ethanol. Today, even though other
economic factors have made ethanol unreliable at times, Brazilians can feel proud that its
country is serving as a leader in terms of energy alternatives.
By 1984, the government' s policies implemented in 1979 boosted the ethanol production
in Brazil. The outcome of these early policies was an increase in the ethanol production from 0.6
billion liters in 1976 to 9.2 billion liters in 1984 (Brilhante 43 8). This increase meant an average
annual rate of growth of 40%. Moreover, ethanol reached about 10% of the actual demand for
oil products and the consumption of ethanol (both anhydrous and hydrous) reached 6.6 billion
liters in 1984 (Brilhante 438).
All the policies implemented throughout the years helped the PNA retain the confidence of
Brazilians about ethanol and its future. Due to policies such as lower taxes for consumers,
hydrous-ethanol cars for private use became six to seven percent cheaper than gasohol cars and
about 40% cheaper if used as taxis (Pereira 57). Consequently, by 1983 the sale of hydrous-cars
increased to an 80% share of total car sales (Pereira 57). Then by 1985 and 1986, more than
75% of all motor vehicles built in Brazil and more than 90% of cars were capable to run on
ethanol fuel (Plummer).
Today, Brazil has become an example for the world in terms of alternative fuels. The
policies implemented since 1979 have created incredible results for the country: "Brazil's
reliance on oil imports has plummeted from 85% of its energy consumption in 1978 to 10% in
2002" (Oppenheimer). The replacement of oil imports throughout these years have been due to
the exploration of new oil fields in Brazil and the fact that ethanol now provides about 40% of
the transportation fuel in the country. The reduction of oil imports has been a challenge that the
government took upon itself since the 1970s and finally the goals are been reached. Ethanol now
serves as one of the most promising fuel alternative available (Friedman). The Brazilian
experience is indeed of great help for other countries to pursued alternative fuel program. The
following chapter discusses what countries like Argentina and the United State are currently
doing to promote alternative energies. Also, the next chapter analysis how the Brazilian
experience serves as an example for them to be successful in the implementation of policies that
promote alternative fuels.
Table 3-1. Mandated Ethanol Blend Ratios in Brazil (%)
1979 1981 1985 1998 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
15.0 20.0 22.0 24.0 22.0 24.0 24.0 25.0 25.0 20.0
Source: Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply
Table 3-2. Vehicle Tax Structure (Percentag~e of Selling. Price)
IPI for Ethanol and Flex- Regular Tax Reduced Tax
Cars with motors between 15 11
1,000 cm3 and 2,000 cm3.
Cars with motors higher 25 18
than 2,000 cm3.
Cars with motors lower than 15 0
2,000 cm3, taxi drivers,
cooperatives, and disabled
Source: Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply
Fuel Taxes Refinery/Distillery Fuel Distributor
Gasoline PIS 2.7%
CIDE R$ 0.28/liter
Hydrous PIS 1.65% 1.46%
Ethanol COFINS 7.60% 6.74%
CIDE R$ O/liter
Anhydrous PIS 1.65%
Ethanol COFINS 7.60%
CIDE R$ O/liter
* Tax rate depends on the state. 25% is the tax in 21 of 27 states
** S~io Paulo reduced it to 12% as of January 2006 ("Alckmin")
Source: Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food Supply
Table 3-3 Ethanol and )
ETHANOL LESSONS FROM BRAZIL
In the first part of this chapter, this thesis explains important lessons that can be use as a
reference by other countries for future development of alternative fuel programs. The lessons
obtained from the Brazilian experience can be of great benefit for those countries interested in
promoting biofuels. The second part of this chapter focuses on the energy situation of two
countries: Argentina and the United States. This part is essential to understand the current
condition other countries in the region are facing with the high price of oil. In addition, as
countries around the world start to get more interested in developing a biofuel industry, this
section explores what Argentina and the United States are doing in regards to biofuels.
The last section of this chapter compares the policy environment in Argentina and the
United States to Brazil and concludes with the end results Brazil has obtained from its ethanol
program. Brazil is now a global leader in the production of ethanol. Argentina and the United
States are two countries that have started to develop policies designed to promote the production
and consumption of the fuel. The Brazilian experience offers valuable lessons for all these
countries; some which can follow depending on each of the country's situation or political
structure. These comparisons allow the reader to understand the state of biofuels in the region.
In the end, the goal of this section is to compare the situation of these two countries with Brazil
to identify what other steps Argentina and the United States should take in order to develop a
successful alternative fuel program.
There are several countries in the Americas looking into producing alternative fuels such
as ethanol. Countries like Paraguay and Peru have recently approved laws designed to promote
the production of biofuels (INTA 24). However, the two countries considered in this thesis were
Argentina and the United States. In the case of Argentina, this country was considered for
several reasons: first, the country is an agriculture powerhouse capable of producing enough raw
materials such as soybeans and corn to meet domestic and international demand of ethanol and
biodiesel. Between 2004/2005, Argentina harvested a total of about 84 million tons of grains
and oilseeds. Soybeans, corn, and wheat represented 88% of the total 2004/2005 harvest (United
States, "Argentina"). This is indeed an advantage that Argentina has over other countries in the
A second reason was that Argentina is a neighboring country of Brazil and a member of
Mercosur38. As a result, these two countries have already established a political and economic
partnership. Through cooperation, these countries can look for ways to develop a bigger and
more efficient market for ethanol and other biofuels. Moreover, with the political influence of
these countries have, they can design multilateral policies with other members of Mercosur to
promote the use of these alternative fuels. One more reason Argentina was chosen was the
initiative taken by the Argentine government towards alternative fuels. As of April 2006, the
Biofuels Act was approved in Argentina in order to increase the production and consumption of
biofuels ("Es ley" 5-2). This is an important step towards creating the necessary structure to
develop an industry with potential benefits for the future.
The other country considered in this chapter is the United States. This country was chosen
for three important issues: first, since the United States has the highest rate of oil consumption in
the world, the current increase in the price of the fuel has put enormous pressure to the country's
economy. This situation is significant due to the importance of the United States' economy to
the rest of the world. Any measures by the government to response to higher fuel costs can have
various implications to many countries around the world.
38 A customs union between Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Venezuela.
Today, any event that affects global oil supplies creates more pressure for the U.S.
government to react in order to maintain a strong economy. For instance, Hurricane Katrina in
2005, the current war in the Middle East, or the shut down of the oil industry for almost two
month in Venezuela39, all have been events that have severely impacted the price of gasoline in
the United States. This situation has increased inflation rates in the United States and the Federal
Reserve have had to respond with monetary policies such as rising interest rates to control
inflation. Therefore, understanding the United States' political and economic decisions to
respond oil price fluctuations is of great importance because of the outcome it can have for the
country and for the rest of the world.
The second reason why the United States was chosen is that the government has already
taken the initiative to look for ways to promote alternative fuels to alleviate the country's
addiction of foreign oil. This is the result after all the economic pressures the country has
experienced due to the high oil prices. Today, the federal government as well as state
governments have started to create policies aimed at the development of a biofuel industry.
Therefore, it is necessary to analyze the current policy environment and provide new ideas in
order to create a more efficient alternative fuel program. Even though ethanol or other biofuels
are not the only solution to reduce all oil imports in the United States, the initiative by the
government has started to create awareness among the population about the importance of
diversifying the country's fuel sources.
The final reason why the United States was considered is national security. After
September 11, 2001, national security became a top priority for the current administration and
the population. A reliable oil supply is an important part of national security since this country is
39 The shut down of the Venezuelan oil industry was due to a strike aimed at ousting President Hugo Chavez in early
heavily dependent on the fuel in order to keep expanding the economy. For that reason, finding
ways to reduce foreign oil dependence is crucial for the future of the United States.
Important Lessons from Brazil
In an agroindustrial complex ringed by fields of 12 foot high sugarcane, a giant mechanical
claw dumps stalks by the tons into an even larger crushing machine. Here's where the
renewable fuel used to power seven of every 10 new Brazilian cars gets its start ("Brazil
This is the situation in many towns of the biggest country in Latin America. Sho Tome, a
southern Brazilian town of about 6,000 people has taken full advantage of the ethanol industry.
Not only it provides 92,500 gallons of ethanol to the country daily, but the sugarcane waste is
burned to meet all of the distillery's electricity needs and the excess power will soon provide
electricity for about half the homes of this town.
Brazil, according to President Lula, is committed to "plant the oil of the future" (Lula da
Silva). This is a credible statement coming from a country that throughout the last three decades
has been able to nearly reach energy-self sufficiency. In this era of high oil prices, the steps
taken by Brazil have indeed attracted many officials from various countries to learn about the
Brazilian experience. In countries like the United States, officials from Congress such as Senator
Chuck Grassley from lowa have traveled to Brazil to learn about the public policies pursued by
the Brazilian government to achieve its global leadership in ethanol production as an alternative
The policy instruments implemented by the Brazilian government have delivered positive
results for the country. Brazil not only is energy self-sufficient with an ethanol program that can
serve as an example for many countries, but the population in towns like Sho Tome are
benefiting with both jobs and energy. In addition, Brazilian motorists are able to save money
and help the environment by having an alternative fuel source capable of replacing oil.
One lesson that governments should take from Brazil is that providing Einancial and non-
Einancial support to the industry is necessary at its early stages of development. The Brazilian
government committed revenues to the ethanol program at its start in 1975. Financial and non-
Einancial support in form of low interest rate loans and production subsidies, or regulations such
as Eixed ethanol prices, were provided to producers in order to develop the necessary technology
to produce and consume the fuel. In the early stages of any alternative energy program,
producers need the capital and the time to adapt to the changes and to overcome the transition
that consumers go through when switching from one source of energy to another.
Government in different countries must create mandates that can show both producers and
consumers the seriousness and commitment of the government towards alternative fuels. Fiscal
and regulatory policies are tools that can be of great benefit to promote the fuel and show the
government's commitment. Brazil managed to do this by creating policies, such as tax breaks
for consumption of ethanol and purchase of ethanol-powered vehicles, as well as imposing blend
ratios of conventional gasoline with anhydrous ethanol to control the demand and supply of the
fuel. At times, the Brazilian ethanol program went through severe difficulties, such as in the
1990s when funds for financial support were not available. Yet, the Brazilian government
showed its commitment to the program by adapting its policies to fit the different economic
cycles the country faced. Brazil's experience with ethanol demonstrates that the transition to
have alternative fuels as a primary energy source can take years. Therefore, long-term
commitments to this type of program by governments send strong signals to consumers and
producers about the importance of alternative fuels for the well-being of the economy and the
Many decisions to promote alternative programs can be difficult for politicians; however,
determination by members of a government would lead to successful outcomes. One example of
difficult political decisions is the removal of production subsidies. Even though both financial
and non-financial support is important at the development stage of an alternative fuel program,
slashing subsidies after the industry is well developed, forces producers to become more efficient
to compete against other agriculture producers in the world. Brazilian sugar producers
experienced this situation and today they are among the most efficient producers in the world.
Another important political decision is how to create the necessary infrastructure to
provide the fuel. If tax benefits for both producers and consumers are created, flex-fuel vehicles
are manufactured, but gas stations are not able to provide the fuel, then the program can easily
fail. Without sufficient filling stations carrying ethanol, distributors and car producers would
have little incentive to promote the use of ethanol. The changes in infrastructure can be funded
by increasing taxes or by mandating private companies to make the necessary changes. These
are all political decisions that governments should make either by implementing regulations or
designing fiscal policies that can undertake these issues.
Cooperation among the private and public sector is of great importance to increase
consumer demand for alternative fuels faster. If the government and the private sector work
together towards an alternative fuel program, the transition to have the fuel, the pump stations,
and the vehicles available for consumers can be more efficient. In countries like the United
States, automobile manufacturers such as General Motors (GM) and Ford Motors can be
essential allies for the government to make ethanol a primary fuel source. In Brazil, the
government was able to establish a relationship with automobile manufacturers by creating fiscal
benefits to display ethanol-powered cars in their showrooms. The benefits obtained from this
link can be seen today on Brazilian roads; as flex-fuel vehicles continued to increase its market
share year after year. This is an important lesson that countries interested in alternative fuels can
learn from Brazil.
Today due to the high costs of oil, U.S. automobile manufacturers have lost market share
to foreign companies such as Honda and Toyota. One reason is the fact that foreign companies
have concentrated in more fuel-efficient vehicles including hybrids. While U.S. manufacturers
have continued to promote their Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV). Creating tax benefits for
domestic companies if more fuel-efficient vehicles or flex-fuel engines are created can help both
the companies and the government in the promotion of ethanol as a fuel. GM for example has
finally started to promote E85 vehicles40 Or flex-fuel with their slogan "Livegreen, Go Yellow ".
This company has actually adapted their cars' engines to be flex-fuel in other markets and has
done very well in Brazil. For instance, GM in Brazil currently produces the most popular flex-
fuel car sold in the country, the Celta 1.0 (Pfeifer). The company "closed 2005 producing more
than 70% of its 11 models with a flex-fuel engine" (Pfeifer). It has taken a long time for GM to
do the same in the United States, but it has finally realized, aided by new government subsidies
for corn-based ethanol production, that changes must be implemented in this market.
Cooperation among the government and domestic automobile manufactures can be a great step
forward towards helping these companies to be competitive again and allowing the population to
save money and help the environment with renewable fuel sources.
Countries like Argentina and the United States have been greatly affected by the current
energy crisis. Hence, these countries have started to look for solutions to alleviate their energy
challenges and reduce the negative impacts to their economies. For example, the ethanol
"0 E85 vehicles are adapted to run on E85 ethanol. E85 ethanol is a renewable fuel made from U.S. grown corn with
a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline (General Motors).
program in Brazil was created after the country was significantly impacted by the increases in
the price of oil during the 1970s. Today, Argentina and the United States are among the many
countries affected by the increase of oil prices. Now they can both leamn the positive and
negative results that Brazil obtained while expanding the vision of ethanol for both consumers
and producers in an era of high oil prices.
Energy Situation in Argentina
In Argentina, petroleum is the dominant source of energy, representing 88% of the
country's energy supply. Among fuels derived from oil, diesel has a market share of 48% and is
most commonly used among the cargo transportation industry, the agriculture sector, and public
transportation (IICA/SAGPyA 26). Currently, there is a demand for diesel in Argentina of about
12.4 million cubic meters per year and by 2010 the demand should reach about 15 million cubic
meters. However, there are concerns about the availability of these resources since it is
estimated that Argentine oil reserves will last only 9.1 years and 10.2 years for natural gas
(IICA/SAGPyA 26). Therefore, biofuels have become very attractive as an alternative source of
fuel for this country (Table 4-1).
Biofuels in Argentina
With the energy uncertainties Argentina is experiencing, they are now promoting
alternative fuels. On April 19, 2006, the Argentine Congress approved the Biofuels Act ("Es
ley" 5-2). The Act promotes, through different fiscal incentives, the production of biofuels
derived from soybeans, sunflower, cotton, sugar, corn, and other agriculture products. The
legislation requires that all oil companies incorporate 5% of ethanol to regular gasoline and 5%
of biodiesel to conventional diesel within a four-year period of the implementation of the law
(Vidal 6). This Act is a vital step forward into developing a more significant alternative fuel
industry in the country.
An important part of the current policy promoting biofuels is the regulatory aspect that
mandates to add 5% minimum of biodiesel or ethanol to regular diesel or gasoline fuel ("Verde"
6). Currently Argentina has about 20 plants dedicated to the production of biodiesel, but they are
mainly used for the production of fuel for agricultural machinery ("Es ley" 5-2). However, with
the approval of the Biofuels Act new investments and proj ects should be created in Argentina to
Biodiesel in Argentina comes from soybeans, sunflower, comn, sugar, and other vegetable
oils or animal fats. Argentina is a world leader in the production of oils from soybeans and
sunflower, as well as other grains such as comn. As of April 2005/2006, the USDA estimated a
soybean record production of 40.5 million tons (United States, "Argentina"). This situation puts
Argentina in a favorable position to increase biofuels production due to its vast production of
raw materials and the implementation of the Biofuel Act.
As one of the world' s leaders in the production of soybeans and corn, the country has a
great opportunity to create a substantial supply of biofuel for its internal market and export
(Huergo 19). As a result, analysts believe that with sufficient investment the industry will be
able to produce enough to meet its demand. It is forecast that by 2010, the first year of the 5%
blend mandate, local demand would be more than 600,000 tons annually of biodiesel ("Verde"
6). Also, demand for ethanol by the same year should reach 160,000 tons annually ("Verde" 6).
According to Claudio Molina, current President of the Biofuel Association in Argentina, at least
18 plants with an average capacity of 35,000 tons yearly for biodiesel and four plants with an
average capacity of 40,000 tons yearly of ethanol will be needed to meet internal demand
(Molina 11). This could translate to a required investment of US$ 80 million.
Global demand for biodiesel and ethanol is also expected to increase. The industry
proj ects high demand of these fuels by 2010 and companies are beginning to make the necessary
investment to catch these opportunities. Future market opportunities can also increase
significantly if two second-generation hybrid soybeans are approved by the Argentine regulatory
agencies (Rubio 5). These soybeans are currently in the early stages of evaluation in the field by
the Argentine Secretariat of Agriculture and are expected to be part of a new technology that can
help the industry tremendously. The characteristics of these two varieties include modified oil
composition and higher oil-content (Rubio 5). Since these two varieties will meet the quality
standards imposed by the European Union, it is expected that these second-generation soybeans
will provide even more opportunities for Argentina to export biofuels.
Domestic Policy Environment
In April 2006, the Argentine government took the initiative in creating a Biofuels Act.
This Act has various policy instruments and requirements designed to develop an industry
capable of producing alternative fuels. Among the most important characteristics of this Act are
that plants must be built and should be property of companies established in Argentina and
capital for proj ects should come from companies dedicated to agriculture or agro-industry (Vidal
6). By following these requirements, biofuel producers would benefit from fiscal incentives such
as accelerated depreciation and amortization capital expenditures for income tax purposes, as
well as anticipated return of the value-added tax (VAT) ("Verde" 6). Other financial incentives
include the distribution of limited production subsidies under the consideration of the Executive
Power ("Verde" 6). The government also has the right to establish reference prices and allocate
the amount of taxes the sector would be exempt from paying each year (Molina 11). The Act
also mandates the creation of a commission as a regulatory agency that will be created to
promote production and sustainable use of biofuels, as well as supervise the industry (Molina
This Act is the first legislation created by any government in Argentina to boost the
production of ethanol and biodiesel. Since the Act is still in its first year since being
implemented, further modifications maybe necessary as the program develops. For instance, one
of the early concerns from the private sector is the elimination of the fiscal stability incentive
proposed in previous drafts reviewed in the Argentine congress (Molina 11). The new law will
expose producers to different tax rates every year depending on the decision of the commission
(Molina 11). The criteria of how the commission will assign the amount of taxes the sector
would be exempt from paying each year is still unclear. This can make strategic planning more
complex, hamper production, and turn away long-term investment. Another issue that some
experts in Argentina have been concerned with is that the law concentrates primarily on small
and medium business, making large oil companies uncertain about under what conditions they
will be able to participate.
A positive environment for investors with clear fiscal and regulatory policies is of great
importance for the effectiveness and future of a biofuels program in Argentina. Therefore, the
government should look into all these issues and the evolution of the biofuel industry in order to
make the necessary changes depending on results in order to make the program a success. The
country is an agricultural power capable of producing enough raw materials for biofuel
production. In addition, the Biofuels Act, an essential first step to promote alternative fuels has
already been taken by the government. Lastly, as a neighboring country to Brazil and member of
Mercosur, both countries can cooperate in the development of the ethanol industry in their
countries and the rest of the world.
Energy Situation in the United States
Increasing ethanol use can benefit our environment, strengthen national security, and fuel
the economic engine of free trade, creating a win-win-win for the United States and Florida
(Enterprise Florida 1).
This was a message given by Florida Governor Jeb Bush after signing into law the 2006
Florida Renewable Energy Technology and Energy Efficiency Act. It is in fact an important step
by the state of Florida recognizing the need of alternative fuel sources for the well-being of both
the state and the country. Ethanol is indeed a technology capable of reducing the high levels of
oil consumption in the United States.
The high price of oil and dependency of imported fuel is a situation that has brought much
concern by politicians in this country in the past; however, the United States' dependence of oil
after September 11, 2001 became an even more critical issue due to its national security. As of
today, "America has used more oil than any other country over the last century, and it has only
2.7% of the world's remaining oil reserves" (Net 3) (Figure 4.1). Moreover, according to the
U. S. Department of Energy, oil imports are proj ected to increase by one-third by 2020 even if
increasing domestic oil production or drilling in places such as the Artic National Wildlife
Refuge in Alaska and the Florida Gulf.
The need to invest in new fuels such as ethanol must be a priority for both the current and
future administrations. The United States not only consumes 25% of all global production (Net
3), but the country has suffered economically from recent price fluctuations due to political
events such as the anti-America rhetoric by presidents like Hugo Chavez and natural disasters
such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Investments by both the government and the private sector in
fuels such as ethanol can indeed serve as a short-term or medium-term solution to this energy
The Brazilian experience could be used as an example for the United States. By looking at
what Brazil has done over the years, politicians in the United States can create similar laws but
adapted to this country and this economy. Brazil's mission to substitute home-grown fuel such
as ethanol for oil imports has been a priority for various Brazilian governments in the last three
decades. Today, the lessons from Brazil previously discussed in this chapter can be used in the
United States to produce an effective energy plan that will alleviate the impacts to the economy
due to oil price fluctuations. Brazil not only can serve as an example for the United States, but
cooperation among these countries can be great importance to bring faster energy solutions for
these countries and the world.
Biofuels in the United States
Corn-based ethanol is the primary biofuel in production in the United States. Today,
ethanol production makes up about three percent of the U. S. annual gasoline usage (Baker and
Zahniser). As of 2005, the United States consumed about 139.9 billion gallons of conventional
gasoline and 4.04 billion gallons of ethanol (Baker and Zahniser). To expand biofuels
production in the United States, the government created an Energy Policy Act in 2005 that
established a federal mandate that require a certain amount of biofuel consumption. Both the
President and the U. S. Congress mandated that consumption of biofuels should reach 7.5 billion
gallons by 2012.
At the USDA' s Agriculture Outlook Forum41 held in February 2006, one of the most
important conclusions was that biofuels growth in the United States has surpassed all
expectations. The production of biodiesel for instance went from about half a million gallons in
41 This forum was held on February 16t and 17" with more than 130 speakers including Agriculture Secretary Mike
Johanns, former U. S. Trade Representative Robert Portman, President of the National Corn Growers Association
Gerald Tumbleson, and many others.
1999 to more than 70 million gallons in 2005 (Rebolini and Romanella 28). The U.S. ethanol
sector on the other hand used about 14% of the total corn harvest in 200542 with an annual
capacity of 4.4 billion gallons. Actual ethanol production in 2005 was a record 3.9 billion
gallons (United States, "Ethanol Production"). Plants under construction or expansion will likely
add about 2. 1 billion gallons to the current capacity (Baker and Zahniser). The USDA estimates
that ethanol will increase its use of raw materials to about 50% of corn production in the next ten
years. These increases are part of President' s George W. Bush mandate "to replace more than
75% of [the United States] oil imports from the Middle East by 2025"43 (United States, "State").
In fact, if existing and anticipated policy incentives in support of ethanol production continue,
capacity could reach 7 million gallons per year by 2010. Currently there are 101 ethanol plants
operating in 20 states. Among the most important states producing and selling ethanol in the
United States are Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, and Nebraska (Lundegaard) (Figure 4.2). In
addition, 39 ethanol plants are under construction and another 7 facilities are under expansion
There have been different factors that have influenced the decision to increase ethanol
production in the United States. An obvious one is the high oil prices that have impacted both
producers and consumers in the United States. Other factors have been low corn prices, the
Renewable Fuels Standards (RFS) under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and the creation of other
policy tools implemented for the promotion of alternative fuels. This situation has indeed
created a new interest for ethanol and other biofuels in general in the United States. The current
42 About 1.6 billion bushes of comn was the production in 2005 (Baker and Zahniser)
43This goal was set by President George W. Bush in his State of the Union speech in January 31s~t, 2005.
emphasis in ethanol production and oil price fluctuation has made biofuels more cost competitive
with gasoline and it has stimulated investments in the industry.
With expectations of oil keeping its prices above US$ 50 per barrel in the next few years,
an increase in the use of alternative fuels should be a priority. Today, ethanol is often seen as the
most viable alternative fuel to replace oil. As a result, the U.S. government is making political
decisions to promote this option. Some of these decisions might be popular policies such as tax
breaks, while others could be political choices that often politicians have not preferred such as
higher gasoline taxes. The U.S. government has started to send messages through Presidential
speeches or different policy tools about the importance of ethanol for the country. However,
more political decisions and commitment, as well as cooperation with the private sector and
foreign governments like Brazil need to prosper in order to increase the significance of ethanol
for the United States.
Domestic Policy Environment
In 2005, President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act calling for the Advance
Energy Initiative (AEI). The President reinforced the importance of alternative fuels in his State
of the Union speech in 2006. Although these developments are a good step forward, more still
needs to be done by the government to alleviate the country's oil dependency in a near future.
Various alternative fuel sources are considered in the Energy Policy Act, but comn-based ethanol
is currently the most viable biofuel that can be produced in the country. Section 1501 of the Act
encourages the private sector to produce the fuel by requiring the use of ethanol in the short and
mid term future. This segment of the Act sets a Fuel Requirement Standard (FRS) for each year
through 2012 requiring that "gasoline sold or introduced into commerce in the U.S. on an annual
average basis, contains the applicable volume of renewable fuel determined" (Enterprise Florida
2). This mean that the new standard set by the Act will increase the use of U. S. corn-based
ethanol from 4 billion gallons in 2006 to 7.5 billion gallons by 2012.
Other federal incentives have been created since 2005 for the promotion and development
of alternative fuels in the United States. The Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit, which is
part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, provides tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of alternative
refueling property, business property, or residential refueling equipment (United States, "Federal
E85"). Another incentive also from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 is the Biodiesel and Ethanol
Tax Credit or section 1344. This segment of the Act extended the tax credit for biofuel
producers through 2008. The credits are US$ 0.51 per gallon of ethanol, US$ 1.00 per gallon of
agri-biodiesel, and US$ 0.50 per gallon of waste-grease biodiesel (United States, "Federal E85").
All these incentives and much more are necessary to continue the promotion of alternative fuels
in the United States.
Florida, as well as many other states in the country, is also looking into the business
opportunities biofuels can offer. According to the conclusions presented at an energy forum at
the University of Florida, the state "can be a leader in alternative fuels made with everything
from orange peels to yard waste" (Crabbe 7A). Plans to build ethanol plants in the state in cities
like Tampa and Jacksonville are on their way. Moreover, the first E-85 pump of the state opened
in Tallahassee on September 13th, 2006. Governor Bush has been a strong advocate for this fuel
and believes that "diversifying the nation's fuel portfolio is essential for the country's national
security and economy" (Bush 1).
Today, up to seven percent of U. S. consumption of ethanol can be imported without tariffs
from countries associated with the U.S.-Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) and
from member countries of the U. S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) (Kabel).
As a result, companies producing ethanol in Brazil are looking for ways to build ethanol plants in
these countries to avoid the US$ 0.54 per gallon tariff the United States imposes on imported
Brazilian ethanol (Kabel). In addition, the United States also collects a 2.5% ad valorem tariff
on ethanol imports (Latin America Advisor). However, there have been debates in the U.S.
government regarding the effects of this tariff. While politicians such as Saxby Chambliss from
Georgia argue that the tariff should be imposed to protect U. S. farmers (Latin America Advisor),
other politicians believe that more ethanol should be imported in order to meet demand for
ethanol as a gasoline additive. Instead of protecting the industry through import tariffs, the
government should look for a partnership with Brazil in order to speed up the development of the
ethanol industry in the United States. By slashing the current tariff, the U.S. ethanol producers
for instance, will face competition from Brazilian producers. This situation will create a
incentive for U.S. producers to invest in technologies to advance the U.S. industry. Moreover,
by removing the tariff, a better relationship in this area among the two countries could be created
in order to develop new technologies to reduce production costs, create a more efficient ethanol
market, and increase the supply of the fuel in the future.
Creating new policies to promote alternative fuels in the United States should become a
priority for members of the government. Even though some members of the government have
taken initiatives to promote alternative fuels, much more still needs to be done in order to have
this fuel as a reliable alternative. Ethanol not only can help the United States in aspects of
national security, but it can also bring economic benefits in rural communities with agriculture-
based economies. Aggressive policies as well as cooperation with foreign countries such as
Brazil are necessary to create a successful program. This fuel is indeed an option that can help
solve environmental issues and the current challenges related with the economy and the national
security of this country.
Set of Policies Implemented by Argentina and the United States
When looking at Argentina, Brazil, and the United States, there are significant differences
among the three countries. For instance, Argentina is a country that had a net foreign direct
investment in 2004 of US$ 1.8 billion compared to Brazil's US$ 7. 100 billion (McCoy 42). In
terms of GDP growth rates in 2004, Argentina grew at an 8.2%, compared to Brazil's 5.2%
(McCoy 43). On the other hand, the United States had a GDP growth rate of 3.4% in 2004 (EIU,
"Economic"). Other factors such as country risk, currency risk, or political risk are also
important differences among these three countries. Therefore, the implementation of policies or
programs to promote alternative fuels in each of these countries depend on their political and
economic environment, as well as resources available by each government.
In the last three decades of the PNA, Brazil implemented a set of policies that targeted
three main groups: producers, distributors, and consumers. Each policy helped the ethanol
program to develop to what it is today. The Brazilian government created both regulatory and
fiscal policies to promote the production and consumption of ethanol. Among the most
important regulatory policies designed for both producers and distributors were: blend ratios,
price policy, production quotas, and environmental policies. Fiscal policies were also created to
target producers and distributors: financing policies, fuel taxation, and government research
funding. Lastly, consumer oriented policies were essential for the development of the ethanol
program in Brazil. The government created a price policy as a regulatory measure and vehicle
and fuel taxation policies. Each of these policy instruments were implemented at different stages
of the program since the government had to adapt to various economic and political cycles.
In the case of Argentina, the new Biofuels Act is intended to expand the country's biofuel
industry. As the first governmental act created in Argentina on this matter, the law has become a
vital first step towards promoting alternative fuels. However, the Act could eventually see
changes in the future in order to adapt to the needs of the industry or the country. This new Act
implements two important policies that were used by Brazil. The first one is a blend ratio policy,
a regulatory measure that forces all oil companies to mix 5% of biodiesel or ethanol to
conventional diesel or conventional gasoline by 2010. The second measure is a Einancing policy
that benefits both producers and distributors in order to expand the industry. The idea behind
this fiscal policy is to support the industry in its early stages of development. This is indeed a
similar path that Brazil took after 1979. One maj or difference is that this Act was not design to
create incentives for consumers. Since the law mandates companies to blend all conventional
fuels with biofuels, consumers will not have to make a choice when buying diesel or gasoline.
Nevertheless, future policies should include consumers in order to create a more efficient market
for the fuel.
The United States has created a more complete set of policies to promote alternative fuels.
The Energy Policy Act signed by President Bush in 2005, was designed with a set of incentives
and regulations targeted to producers, distributors, and consumers. The Act has a series of
regulatory and fiscal policies with financial incentives in order to speed up the development of
the industry. One regulation is the blend ratio policy established in Section 1501 of the Energy
Policy Act that requires a certain percentage of ethanol be added to conventional gasoline. This
percentage will increase each year through 2012. The maximum blend ratio as of today is 10%
ethanol 90% gasoline. The reason is that all gasoline cars sold in the U.S. can run on a 10%
ethanol mix without an engine adjustment (Enterprise Florida 2). The government expects an
increase of 7.5 billion gallons of ethanol by 2012 as a result of this regulation.
In addition, fiscal policies designed to create incentives for producers and consumers are
also part of the energy Act in the United States. Among the fiscal policies designed to influence
the supply-side are government research funds. This is a policy that the United States was able
to create by allocating funds to research institutions and universities in order to find new
technologies. This is indeed a policy that could bring results in the near future just like it
happened for Brazil. The other set of policies oriented for both producers and consumers are
taxation policies. The current administration has used tax policies to give incentives to the
population to either producer or consume ethanol. This instrument has created tax benefits for
producers such as corn growers in the Midwest states. In addition to the production subsidies
they already received, producers are entitled of tax benefits if they engage in ethanol production.
Tax policies were also designed to attract consumers into buying flex-fuel vehicles. Today,
consumers can benefit from tax credits by purchasing the several E85 models offered by
automobile manufactures. Even though these policies are only a couple of years old, the
government is expecting positive results in the next six years. The high price of oil, together
with both regulatory and fiscal policies created by the U.S. government, should bring dividends
in the near future just like it did for Brazil. However, even though these policy instruments are a
good start, more will still need to be done in order to adapt the changes in the economy and in
Table 4-1. Argentina' s Distribution of Diesel Consumption per Sector (2004)
Cargo trans otton 56%
Agriculture sector 20%
Transportation system 14%
Ships and energy generation 2%
Source: IICA/SAGPyA, 2005
~nsumption of Hydrocarbons Resources (200l
Cubic Meters Market
(in millions) Share
Diesel 11.4 48%
Gasoline 3.4 15%
Natural Gas 3.1 13%
Kerosene 1.3 6%
Fuel Oil 1.1 5%
Poae 0.65 3%
Bufane 0.40 2%
Others 1.0 5%
Total 23.7 100%
1 T\ Irrrrrr
Table 4-2. Argentina's Co
CII: ecruoB A/SAGFy 5
- $ )Production
U.S. OPEC Re st of Wo rl d
Figure 4-1. World Oil Reserves, Production, and Consumption (2003) Source: Enterprise
Fueling Up With Ethanol
Mo~re than 600) gasoline stations in Ihe .J.. now, also sell the ethancll mix known as E$5. Most are
conCentrated in the Midwest.
* EB5 fuellig station
r ie -+
Figure 4-2. E85 Gasoline Stations in the United States. Source: Karen Lundegaard, 2006
1111 ~ ~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 1 I 11 1 I III 1 111
1997 19.78 19?9 2000 21 ID2[)? 2003
Figure 4-3. Global Production of Ethanol (1997 2003). Source: Plinio Mario Nastari, 2004.
THE END RESULT (THE BRAZILIAN EXPERIENCE)
Brazil has pioneered the use of ethanol produced from sugarcane. Government policies
and partnerships between public and private institutions throughout the years have provided the
foundation for the development of this successful industry which has helped the country in many
ways. In fact, all the regulations and incentives created by the government have indeed
maintained this program running even in the bad times. However, the various changes in the
economic and political environment of Brazil have also resulted in unintentional outcomes for
Since 1975, ethanol has been considered by most Brazilians as the most suitable substitute
fuel not derived from oil. Today, the government emphasizes how the ethanol program has a
positive effect on the balance of payments and economic growth for Brazil. Moreover, the
ethanol program has created new employment opportunities and has initiated rural development
in some of the poorest regions of Brazil. Since its start, the program has gone through a variety
of stages during which Brazilians have doubted its success. Nevertheless, the government's
commitment and policies have allowed ethanol to still be a credible renewable energy source.
One maj or finding in this research is the various factors that have affected the ethanol
program and the government' s response. One key factor that affects ethanol planning is the price
of oil and the price of sugar. The relationship of these two commodities has influenced the
industry and the decisions taken by the government. For instance, as prices of oil went up during
the 1970s and 1980s, the Brazilian government opted to look at ethanol as a solution in order to
reduce the impacts to their economy. On the other hand, when prices of oil went down during
the 1990s, ethanol funding programs stopped being a priority for the government. The price of
sugar also affected the ethanol production in Brazil. As raw sugar prices continued to increase at
times, producers were inclined to sell it in the international sugar market to obtain higher profits.
As a result, the government needed to regulate production and create incentives for producers to
provide sugar to the ethanol industry.
In order to control these factors, the government was involved in the market by creating
financial and non-financial incentives for producers. However, some of the outcomes obtained
from the policies implemented resulted on unintended consequences. For instance, when the
government reduced public funding for the ethanol program in the 1990s, Brazilian producers
were able to become more efficient than ever before. This efficiency in Brazil carried into the
new millennium and today Brazil is still a leader in ethanol production.
Another important finding is that the Brazilian experience could serve as a guideline for
other countries to create alternative fuel programs but not a model. After looking at the ethanol
history in Brazil and the current biofuels situation in countries like Argentina and the United
States, it is important to notice that each country is different. Each of these countries have
different resources, different economic environments, a different political system, and a different
political will. Therefore, the Brazilian experience could not serve a blueprint for the rest of the
world. Instead, other countries could see Brazil as an example and could work with the Brazilian
government on common goals on energy solutions by cooperating with each other. These
guidelines are significant for several reasons: reduce economic and environmental pressures, and
global security. If countries use Brazil as an example, and countries cooperate with each other in
order to create an important market of ethanol, positive results could be obtained in the near
future. Countries like Argentina and the United States have started to promote biofuels
production and consumption. Brazil continues to be a leader in the production and consumption
of ethanol as an alternative fuel. These countries need to continue pushing for a change and a
diversification of energy sources. Therefore, Brazil's experience could serve as a guide for other
countries interested in alternative fuel programs.
Over the years, Brazil has developed new technology that has allowed it to make
affordable fuel mixtures for its domestic consumption. As a result, the domestic market for
ethanol is booming and already accounts for some 40% of non-diesel automotive fuel volume
(EIU, "Ethanol-fuelled"). Together with the Brazilian government, the sugar and automobile
industries are investing significant capital to make this 30-year old industry more significant for
Brazil and the world. Thus far, this promising renewable fuel seems as an alternative able to
reduce countries' dependence of oil; Brazil, through its long experience with ethanol, positioned
itself as the only one now capable to take it around the globe.
For the past thirty years, the country has concentrated in replacing the demand of gasoline
for alternative fuels. Since the energy crisis of the 1970s and through the current energy
concerns of the 21"t century, the government' s mandates have resulted in over US$ 10 billion
invested in new sugar mills as well as modern fuel pumps in order to increase consumer
awareness (Enterprise Florida 6). About half of Brazil's 21,000 square miles of sugarcane is
used to make ethanol and in 2005 the country exported about 2.6 billion liters (Brazil, "Brazilian
Agribusiness"). Today, the country's 304 refining plants44 represent a production capacity of
about 17 billion liters per year (Barros 1). Currently, more than 29,000 filling stations offer both
hydrous ethanol and gasoline mixed with 20% anhydrous ethanol. In the United States for
instance, over 600 filling stations offer E85 fuel45 (Enterprise Florida 6). This comparison shows
a great gap between the two leading producers of ethanol in the world. Today, more than 80% of
4461% of these plants are located in the state of Sio Paulo.
45A blend of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol.
new cars sold in Brazil can run with both gasoline and ethanol, in contrast less than 2% of cars in
the United States can run on E85 (Harri).
Brazil's strong position with ethanol is also of great importance for the world in terms of
helping the environment, reducing oil dependency, and promoting trade. In 2004, the Brazilian
sugarcane harvest produced 416 million tons, 91% of which was used to produce 26.5 million
tons of sugar and 15.2 billion liters of ethanol (Brazil, "Brazilian Agribusiness"). Moreover, as
global demand for ethanol increases, Brazil is adapting to these changes. In the next three years,
40 new plants are due to enter production in the country (Brazil, "Brazilian Agribusiness").
Lastly, Brazil's strong position in the world economy and ethanol production has helped them
become more active in trade negotiations. In order to expand sugar and ethanol exports, the
country is aggressively seeking to reduce global protectionism and unfair commercial practices,
particularly in agriculture commodities.
Brazil has become an example in this era of high oil prices and environmental challenges.
In the past year, there has been rapid change in the way in which alternative fuels are promoted.
In the United States, where people have been very affected by high gasoline prices, both the
public and private sector are seeking ways to find a solution to the country's oil dependence.
Other countries like Japan and India are also interested on ethanol to reduce their oil bills and to
alleviate its environmental problems. Brazil is indeed well ahead of these countries and its
history and experience serve as an example and a model to follow in the immediate future.
As previous mistakes or misfortunes by Brazil are now becoming part of history; the future
for ethanol and the country looks promising. For instance, the hydrous-ethanol powered cars that
were produced in the mid 1980s represent just a 3% of the current market in Brazil (Lynch). In
contrast, the flex-fuel cars took 53.6% of the Brazilian market in 2005. In all, 866,267 flex-fuel
cars were sold in 2005 against 328,379 the year before ("More Cars"). Companies such as
Volkswagen, Fiat, General Motors, and Ford Motors have launched a range of more than 40 flex-
fuel models within the last two years. In addition, Toyota Motors and Honda Motors have
recently started to build flex-fuel vehicles in Brazil (Lundegaard). In the medium term, it is
expected that flex-fuel cars would obtain an 80% share of the market since the cars are no more
expensive than traditional gasoline cars. Moreover, gasohol and hydrous ethanol is still sold at
almost half the price of conventional gasoline (EIU, "Ethanol-fuelled").
Ethanol is also creating new investments opportunities for foreign and domestic firms in
Brazil. Big sugar producers such as French companies Tereos and Louis Dreyfus are making
significant investments. Both firms have invested about US$ 150 million in Brazil in the last
four years. There are growing opportunities in the future as ethanol becomes an important trade
commodity for the world. With countries searching for ways to reduce environmental challenges
and oil dependency, ethanol has become more than just an attractive idea. According to the Sho
Paulo Sugarcane Agroindustry Association (UNICA), investment in sugarcane in Brazil will
reach US$ 3 billion by 2010 (EIU, "Ethanol Producers").
Now that Brazil has shown the world its achievements, we see hundreds of articles in
newspapers all over the world explaining how they did it. The United States for instance, second
largest producer of ethanol in the world, is now debating and looking for ways to achieve the
same in a time when energy costs are creating problems for its economy. Brazil in the other
hand is looking for markets around the world to sell ethanol and create a market for this
commodity. As more political events, natural disasters, or shortages of oil supply occur, the
world will continue to face energy crisis in the future. Countries around the world, including
Brazil, will face more energy challenges along the way. However, after looking at how the
Brazilian government has managed its ethanol program and adapted its policies in the last three
decades, we can expect the Brazilians will find ways together with the private sector to assure
the continuation of this successful ethanol program. Good policy management to promote
alternative fuel programs is indeed a very important aspect towards reducing oil addiction in
many countries around the world.
November 1973 First Oil Shock
November 14, 1975 Creation of the National Alcohol
1979 Second Oil Shock
1979 to 1981 Institutional Crisis for the PNA
1980s The "Lost Decade"
1982 Mexican Debt Crisis
1982 to 1985 Period of Adjustment for the PNA
1990s New Reforms (Washington
1997 Asian Crisis
1997 Price Liberalization of Hydrated
1999 Price Liberalization of Anhydrous
1999 Elimination of Ethanol Distribution
Monopl by Petrobras
2003 Introduction ofFlex-fuel
Technology in Manufactured
Vehicles in Brazil
2006 Leader in Global Ethanol Production
Appendix A-2. Brazilian Ethanol Policy Diagram
Producer and distributor Consumer-oriented
oriented policies p policies
Regulatory policies Blend ratios Price policy
Fiscal policies Financing policies Vehicle taxation
Fuel taxation Fuel taxation
Governmental research funding
ETHANOL INT BRAZEL
Appendix A-1. Timeline
LIST OF REFERENCES
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"Alckmin diz que biocombustivel e a arma." Autom6vvel UOL. 8 Jan. 2006. 9 Oct. 2006
Baer, Werner. The Brazilian Economy. Growth and Development. 5th ed. Westport: Praeger,
Baer, Werner, and Charles C. Mueller. Brazil: Country Study. 8 Nov. 2005. Library of
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Baker, Allen, and Steven Zahniser. "Ethanol Reshapes the Corn Market." Amber Waves. Apr.
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Barbosa, Fabio and Roberto Macedo. "Brazil: Instability and Macroeconomic Policies." The
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Paulo: USDA, 2005.
Barros, Sergio, and Morgan Perkins. "Ethanol Update February." USDA-FAS Gain Report. 8
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Baumann, Renato. "Brazil in the 1990s: An Economy in Transition." Brazil in the 1990s: An
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"Brazil is World's Ethanol Superpower." CBS News. 13 Mar. 2006. 30 Aug. 2006