Just an hour's drive outside this traffic-choked metropolis where US President George W. Bush will kick off a Latin American tour on Thursday, sugarcane fields stretch for hundreds of kilometers, providing the ethanol that fuels eight out of every 10 new Brazilian cars.
In only a few years, Brazil has turned itself into the planet's undisputed renewable energy leader and the highlight of Bush's visit is expected to be a new ethanol "alliance" he will forge with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The deal is still being negotiated, but the two leaders are expected to sign an accord on Friday to develop standards to help turn ethanol into an internationally traded commodity, and to promote sugar cane-based ethanol production in Central America and the Caribbean to meet rising international demand.
Across Latin America's largest country, Brazilian media were billing the Bush-Silva meeting as a bid to create a new two-state"OPEC of ethanol," despite efforts by Brazilian and US officials to downplay the label amid concerns that whatever emerges would be viewed as a price-fixing cartel.
Meanwhile, political and energy analysts warned that any agreements reached between Brazil and the US were unlikely to have short-term effects.
And the deal itself could end up largely symbolic because of reluctance by Washington to address a key point of friction: a US$0.14 per-liter US tariff on Brazilian ethanol imports.
"For the Brazilians, the tariff has utmost priority," said Cristoph Berg, an ethanol analyst with German commodities research firm F.O. Licht.
"They will agree with developing biofuel economies around the world, but the first thing they will say is `We want to do away with that tariff," he said.
But no one is expecting Bush to give ground on the tariff.
The politically sensitive issue essentially subsidizes US corn growers who are rapidly ramping up ethanol production amid Washington's encouragement of renewable biofuels to ease US dependence on imported petroleum.
But the visit will help Bush and Lula join forces to promote the politically popular issue of renewable energy simply by gathering in a place where ethanol is king.
At every gas station in the city of 18 million, drivers can fill up with gasoline or ethanol. Ethanol came courtesy of a 1970s decision by former military dictators to subsidize production and require distribution at the pumps.
A 1980s Brazilian fad with cars that ran only on ethanol petered out when oil prices fell in the early 1990s.
But the fuel came back into vogue in 2003 when automakers started rolling out "flex-fuel" cars that run on gasoline, ethanol or any combination of the two.
With international oil prices reaching record highs, Brazilian drivers turned to the cars; most choose ethanol, because it costs about half as much as gas.
The ethanol industry is now making profits like never before amid heavy foreign investment.
Brazil is the world's top exporter, though US ethanol production still surpasses Brazil. Brazil, however, produces it more cheaply.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday issued a rebuttal to former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who said a fistfight in the Legislative Yuan might have been “provoked from the outside” to destabilize Taiwan. Rice made the comment in an online discussion about the AUKUS alliance of Australia, the UK and the US hosted by the Policy Exchange forum in London on Thursday. On mention of Taiwan, she was quoted by The Australian as predicting that Beijing would use paramilitary forces and acts of sabotage to destabilize the nation. “There was a fistfight in the Taiwanese parliament a few weeks ago
A Taiwanese YouTuber suspected of creating and selling deepfake porn videos featuring more than 100 politicians and influencers was on Monday released on bail after being arrested the previous day. Chu Yu-chen (朱玉宸), 26, who uses the name Xiaoyu (小玉) on YouTube, was arrested on Sunday in New Taipei City, along with two suspected accomplices, a 24-year-old YouTuber surnamed Yeh (耶), known as Shaiw Shaiw (笑笑), and a 22-year-old man Chuang (莊). The three suspects were on Monday escorted to the New Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for further questioning on suspicion of distributing obscene videos and publicly insulting others, in contravention of
CHINA WORRIES: A source said the AIT held a meeting at which Taiwan lawmakers and US officials discussed expediting shipments of arms that were paid for Taiwanese officials have reportedly reached out to the US to discuss the possibility of expediting the delivery of F-16 jets to Taiwan, CNN said on Friday. While the “Pentagon’s Indo-Pacific Command has watched with increasing concern as China has rapidly modernized its military and improved its training with an eye to Taiwan,” the US Department of State is wary of taking a more aggressive stance against China, a CNN report said. US President Joe Biden’s “administration has discussed with Taiwanese officials the possibility of expediting the delivery of American-made F-16s to Taiwan, according to Taiwanese and US officials familiar with the talks,”
FAMILY: While the CECC agrees ‘in principle’ to allowing entry to foreign spouses and children of foreigners in Taiwan with a residence permit, the issue is still being reviewed A nationwide level 2 COVID-19 alert is to be extended for two weeks until Nov. 1, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, adding that agencies are still discussing whether to allow foreign spouses and children of foreigners in Taiwan with a residence permit to enter the nation. “In principle we agree to relaxing the entry regulations for the group, but relevant agencies are still reviewing and discussing the matter,” said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. The center on Sept. 13 eased border restrictions for foreign dependents of Taiwanese nationals. They can apply