US, Brazil launch forum to promote biofuels trade

The world's two top ethanol producers - the United States and Brazil - announced the creation of an international forum to help turn biofuels into a globally traded commodity. 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. 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," Thomas A. Shannon, US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said Friday. "We think this is a huge step forward in the development of a new international understanding of energy." The announcement comes a week before US President George W. 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.