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27/09/2013 - REUTERS
Brazil seen importing 1-1.5 bln liters of U.S. ethanol Dec-April

By Roberto Samora

Brazil´s  main sugarcane-producing region in the center-south is expected to import between 1 billion and 1.5 billion liters of U.S.ethanol in the December-April period between harvests, local sugar and ethanol analyst Job Economy said on Friday.

Job Economy´s director, Julio Maria Borges, said Brazil´s  center-south would crush 586 million tonnes of cane this season, while leaving 15 million to 20 million tonnes of mature cane unharvested until the next season´s crushing starts in April.

Borges said the 2014/15 center-south crop is expected to expand by 30 million tonnes from the current one.

"We are going to import corn ethanol during the center-south interharvest. Today the price is right. It´s cheaper than local anhydrous ethanol," Borges said.

He said that imports would help meet growing demand for the biofuel. The Brazilian government raised the mandatory blend for ethanol in commercial gasoline to 25 percent on May 1 from 20 percent previously.

Brazil has also been exporting some of its ethanol to the United States, primarily, where it wins a premium due to its advanced biofuel status under the Environmental Protection Agency´s Renewable Fuels Standards.

Brazil exported nearly 2 billion liters through August compared with 1.3 billion over the same period last year, Trade Ministry data showed.

Borges expects Brazil´s  center-south to produce 25 billion liters of ethanol this season, 3.6 billion liters more than last year.

(Reporting by Roberto Samora; Writing by Reese Ewing; Editing by John Wallace and Andrew Hay)

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