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Brazilian ethanol imports fall 21% in 2020, NNE imports plunge 61%

Brazilian ethanol imports in 2020 added 1 billion liters, down 21%, with the major fall seen in the North and Northeast regions, where total imports reached 384 million liters, a plunge of 61% on the year, data released by the Secretariat of Foreign Trade, SECEX, on Jan. 7 showed.

While the cumulative imports reflect a year of reduced fuel demand in the country and steep depreciation of the Brazilian real against the US dollar, which kept the import arbitrage closed, December imports proved to be in line with market expectations and totaled 95 million liters.

From this total, 69 million liters entered the country through the NNE ports, a volume 95% higher than in the same period of 2019.

The high volume imported into the NNE in December was mostly supported by the domestic anhydrous ethanol price uptick end-November and the last days of the Brazilian ethanol import quota, which allowed imports from the US to enter the country free of the 20% import tariff, which was reinstated on Dec. 14.

On Nov. 19, the S&P Global Platts anhydrous ethanol assessment was settled at Real 3,015/cu m ($557.25/cu m), up 31.4% on the year and the highest level since the assessment was launched in November 2017.

Amid the high imported volume in December, NNE ethanol producers have been in a rush to find prompt demand and avoid inventories reaching an over tank capacity level.

Latest data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, MAPA, showed anhydrous ethanol inventories in the NNE region at 217 million liters mid-December, a surge of 33.8% from the same period of 2019, while in the Center-South region anhydrous inventories were up 2.4% on the year at 3.49 million liters

Pernambuco is the state in the NNE region with the highest anhydrous stock level, recorded on Dec. 15 at 40 million liters.

While imports and domestic inventories rebounded in December, total anhydrous demand in the NNE until November was down 4.9% on the year, while in the CS region demand was capped further and fell 8.2% year on year, latest data released by the National Agency of Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels, ANP, showed.

Amid higher inventories and imports with still capped demand, the NNE regional benchmark, Platts anhydrous DAP Suape, was assessed on Dec. 31 at Real 2,910/cu m, a drop of 3.5% from the highs reached on Nov. 19.
Source: Platts

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