United Nations The world's two top ethanol producers - the U.S. and Brazil - announced the creation of an international forum to help turn biofuels into a globally traded commodity, just days before the two countries are expected to sign a separate agreement promoting the industry across the Western Hemisphere.
The International Biofuel Forum will meet regularly for a year to draft global standards for biofuel production, find ways to open markets and encourage investment in countries with the potential to develop the industry, officials said Friday. The forum also includes China, India, South Africa and the European Union Commission in an effort to involve the world's biggest potential consumers and producers.
"By working together, we will be able to identify ways to help countries with agricultural potential become major energy suppliers," said Thomas A. Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. "We think this is a huge step forward in the development of a new international understanding of energy."
The announcement comes a week before President Bush travels to Brazil for talks in which renewable biofuels will top the agenda.
Bush and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva are expected to sign an agreement - separate from the international forum - to share scientific and technological research for an industry that has burgeoned in both countries.
"Biofuel cannot be promoted by just one country," Silva told journalists in Brazil on Thursday. "It is a global issue."