Brazil’s Odebrecht plans $8.1 billion landmark investment in Mexico

Reuters, 10/01/2013

Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht ODBES.UL plans to spend $8.1 billion in Mexico in the next five years in what appears to mark the biggest investment pledge yet from a Brazilian firm in Latin America’s No. 2 economy.

Odebrecht, one of Latin America’s biggest family-owned companies, will invest in petrochemicals, renewable energy, ethanol and sugar production and highway concessions, according to a statement put out by the office of Mexico’s president.

Marcelo Odebrecht, the company’s chief executive, on Tuesday met Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, the statement said.

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Secretary Kerry’s Brazil visit: energy, education and global entry compete with NSA criticism

Diana Villiers Negroponte – Brookings, 08/19/2013

The Secretary of State was the target of a public drubbing in Brazil. Kerry had been warned beforehand that Brazilian criticism of the NSA program would be public and fierce. There is no equivalent national program to collect information in Brazil, and for a nation which still recalls authoritarian ways of the military rule, intelligence gathering holds strong negative connotations. Two days after Secretary Kerry’s visit, President Rousseff’s government announced that it is considering measures to make it a crime for people to read other’s email messages without their consent. The sensitivity of intelligence gathering remained an issue throughout Kerry’s visit, but other important subjects were discussed in the context of President Rousseff’s forthcoming state visit to the United States on October 23. What might we expect in these bilateral discussions?

The U.S. and Brazil have a growing trade and investment ties. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, from a negative trade balance of $1.4 billion in 2007, U.S. exports to Brazil have grown from $24.2 to $43.8 billion in 2012. Imports have also grown, but the balance is now in the U.S. favor at $11.7 billion. Much of this trade is in complementary goods making two-way trade positive for both countries. However, according to the Financial Times, Brazil’s trade with the Europe Union (EU) rose by 195% between 2000 and 2010 to $98 billion, and Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota talks of a ‘fast tracked’ free trade agreement with the EU.  Brazil sees greater opportunity for growth with the European market. Meantime, there is no talk of a trade agreement with the United States.

However, opportunities exist within the bilateral Strategic Energy Dialogue to deepen cooperation on biofuels, renewable energy and energy efficiency, the smart grid, as well as an initiative for oil and gas development and nuclear power. Although the U.S. Department of Energy is responsible for this dialogue, Secretary Kerry expressed his hope that in September’s bilateral meeting, both the U.S. and Brazilian private sectors might find a place at the table to discuss the development of joint projects. Scope exists for the electrical utility companies in both countries to work together in developing energy efficiency techniques and electrical transmission.

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Brazil throws troubled ethanol industry tax breaks, credit

Alonso Soto, Reese Ewing – Reuters, 04/23/2013

Brazil’s government threw its sugar-ethanol industry a lifeline on Tuesday, by cutting taxes and sweetening credit for the struggling sector it hopes will resume investments in new biofuel plants to bolster output.

Finance Minister Guido Mantega, who announced the measures, said he expected a recovery in the ethanol industry could also help curb stubborn consumer inflation by bringing down fuel prices and reducing Brazil’s dependence on gasoline imports.

The reduction of the so-called PIS/Cofins – payroll and social security taxes – and interest rates on loans is expected to help ethanol groups such as Louis Dreyfus, Bunge , Cosan and others offset production costs that have risen steadily in the last decade.

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Anaylsis: Brazil’s once-envied energy matrix a victim of “hubris”

Jeb Blount – Reuters, 01/07/2013

Just five years ago, Brazil‘s mostly “green” energy landscape was the envy of nations dependent on dirtier sources of power and the pride of a government that believed it was leading the country to economic superpower status.

Three-quarters of electricity came from renewable hydro power and the main automobile fuel was home-grown sugarcane ethanol. Plus, Brazil had just found massive oil fields off its coast, putting it on a path to become the world’s No. 3 oil producer after Russia and Saudi Arabia by 2020.

Today, the outlook is much darker. Oil output is falling, ethanol production has plunged, and fears have recently returned of electricity rationing that could further depress a stagnant economy and embarrass President Dilma Rousseff.

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Rio+20: Wind energy subsidies needed to get technology going, says Nick Clegg

Christopher Hope – The Telegraph, 06/20/2012

The Deputy Prime Minister, who is leading the UK delegation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the Rio+20 Earth Summit, said it was preferable for renewable energy not to rely on subsidies but said initial investment could go a long way.

His comments came after it emerged George Osborne wants to cut subsidies for wind energy in a move which could halt the expansion of the turbines throughout Britain.

Ministers are expecting a reduction of up to a quarter in the value of Renewable Obligation Certificates — or “Rocs” — when the Energy Bill is published in a few weeks’ time.

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Brazilian president promises to boost investment with Bulgaria, her ancestral homeland

Mercopress, 10/06/2011

The Brazilian president received a hero’s welcome in Sofia.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff pledged to raise investment in Bulgaria, her ancestral homeland, in renewable energy, aviation and the oil industry.

Rousseff arrived to the capital Sofia late Tuesday after meeting European Union officials in Brussels, accompanied by representatives from Brazil’s biggest companies, including state-controlled oil company Petrobras and mining company Vale, both based in Rio de Janeiro.

Rousseff, whose late father Pedro Rousseff immigrated to Brazil after leaving Bulgaria before World War II, is on her first visit to the eastern European nation of 7.3 million, where her election last year was widely celebrated. Prime Minister Boiko Borissov gave her a family tree during her inauguration on Jan. 1.

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Brazil soars in renewable energy rankings

Robin Yapp – The Daily Telegraph/, 09/28/2011

Over half of the investment in Brazil's 10-year energy plan will be spent on hydropower (Source: fotopedia/kevin.j)

There is an old joke that says Brazil is the country of the future – and always will be. But with rapid economic growth, the government claiming that some 40 million people have been lifted out of poverty in the past decade and the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on the horizon, it seems the joke is about to fall flat. Brazil’s time has arrived and the country of sun, sea and samba is keen to showcase itself to the world as a positive example of how to exploit renewable energy sources as well as how to perform on the football pitch.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, up to 77 percent of the world’s energy needs could potentially be supplied from renewable sources by 2050, despite the current figure being a much more modest 13 percent.

Many heads of government around the world wondering how they can play their part in such a dramatic transformation could be forgiven for looking enviously at Brazil, where the figure already stood at 44.8 percent in 2010 and is forecast to rise to 46.3 percent in 2020.

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