Trends in global biofuel trade

At present only limited amounts of biofuels enter the international market as the bulk of production is consumed domestically. In the case of bioethanol, less than 10 per cent of global production enters the international market. However, international trade is expected to grow very rapidly in the coming years as the global increase in consumption and the scaling up of production will not coincide geographically.

Brazil as the largest bioethanol exporter, providing about 25 per cent of global bioethanol exports in this year. More recent data, however, suggest that Brazil has increased its exports to 50 per cent of global bioethanol exports. The second largest exporter of bioethanol is the US (14 per cent), followed by France (11 per cent) and UK (8 per cent). Exports from these EU countries are destined to other European countries. Countries from the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) such as Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Jamaica are also important exporters. Bioethanol is reprocessed in these countries and re-exported to the US. Peru exports to Japan and to the US under the Andean Pact. Other important exporters are sugar producing countries like Pakistan–the second largest exporter to the EU after Brazil, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, which enjoy preferential access to the EU market.

As suggested above, Brazil now supplies about 50 per cent of the international demand for bioethanol. The main destinations for Brazilian bioethanol exports in 2004 were India (20 per cent), the US (18 per cent), Korea (10 per cent) and Japan (9 per cent).

The US is the main importer of bioethanol, accounting for 31 per cent of global imports. US imports represent 5 per cent of domestic production and they mainly come from Brazil (54 per cent) and CBI countries. Other significant importers are Mexico, Korea and Germany with 11 per cent, 10 per cent and 10 per cent of global bioethanol imports, respectively. These are followed by Italy (5 per cent), France (5 per cent), Netherlands (4 per cent) and Nigeria (4 per cent). Venezuela also imports bioethanol from Brazil. The EU imports a large proportion of the bioethanol it uses, mainly from Brazil and Pakistan. Other important EU suppliers are Guatemala, Ukraine and Peru. The main EU importer is Sweden. As suggested before, there are also significant intra EU trade flows of bioethanol.

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