(Adds Bueno’s statement in paragraph 5, details of Council’s presentation in paragraphs 6-7)
SAO PAULO, April 20 (Reuters) - Finland’s Stora Enso Oyj , Europe’s biggest paper maker, may consider expanding in Brazil depending on whether the government eases legal and regulatory uncertainty for pulp and paper producers, a company executive told Valor Econômico newspaper.
In an interview published on Thursday, Juan Carlos Bueno, Stora Enso’s executive vice president for biomaterials, told Valor that growing the Veracel Celulose venture hinges on how the government deals with issues like landless peasants’ activism or existing limits on foreign land ownership.
Veracel is owned equally by Helsinki-based Stora Enso and Fibria Celulose SA, the world’s largest eucalyptus pulp producer. A recent gain in Brazil’s currency, the real , has mostly annulled the impact of price hikes that pulp producers implemented in previous months, Bueno told Valor.
Bueno’s remarks underscored the importance of Latin America for Stora Enso’s strategy to obtain low-cost pulp from tree plantations.
In an email to Reuters, Bueno confirmed remarks made to Valor. “My quotes are correct, but as we always look for expansion opportunities globally it is a hypothetical statement and should thus be interpreted as such,” Bueno wrote.
Brazil’s pulp and paper industry could potentially lure $23 billion in investments between 2012 and 2020, the Swedish Trade & Invest Council said in a February 2016 presentation, citing 2015 figures from Ibá, the Brazilian tree association. The Council could not provide a more recent estimate, saying that adverse economic conditions and a different exchange rate could affect the estimate and investment decisions.
Those investments could help double Brazil’s forestry base, increase existing plants and build new ones. In Brazil, Veracel’s average annual pulp production is 1.1 million tonnes. (Reporting by Ana Mano; Editing by Frances Kerry and Alistair Bell)