Argentina seeks to export more food to sanction-hit Russia
By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES Aug 15 (Reuters) - Major world food supplier Argentina will send a trade delegation to Russia next week to try to increase exports to the country, which this month banned many Western products in response to sanctions over its intervention in Ukraine.
Argentina's enthusiasm for trade with Russia will improve Moscow's chances of filling any gaps left by its ban on European Union supplies and reduce the odds of food shortages.
Argentina's neighbor Brazil has already jumped in with both feet. About 90 new meat plants there were hastily approved to export to Russia, and Brazil began work to increase its corn and soybeans sales to Russian buyers.
Argentine state news service Telam said meetings would take place on Tuesday and Wednesday in Moscow, "with the explicit objective of quickly signing export contracts."
Dairy product exports alone could rise 20 percent if Russia turns to Latin America's No. 3 economy after blocking U.S. and EU milk, Miguel Paulon, head of Argentina's dairy industry chamber, told Telam.
Moscow has blocked food imports from the United States, the EU, Australia, Canada and Norway in retaliation for sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.
The Argentine mission will include trade and agriculture ministers. "This is a concrete opportunity that we have to take advantage of," Daniel Funes de Rioja, head of Argentina's Copal food industry chamber, told Telam.
Increasing export revenues could help Argentina stabilize its central bank reserves, which have fallen more than 5 percent over the last year to $28.968 billion. Continued...