UPDATE 2-Russia food ban offers big opportunity for Brazil
(Recasts with Argentina and Chile context, background, changes dateline, previous BRASILIA)
By Caroline Stauffer and Silvio Cascione
SAO PAULO/BRASILIA Aug 7 (Reuters) - Russia's ban on many western food products presents a massive opportunity for meat and grain exports from agricultural powerhouse Brazil and a smaller one for its Latin American neighbors.
Around 90 new meat plants in Brazil were immediately approved to export beef, chicken and pork to Russia and the South American nation is already working to increase its exports of corn and soybeans sales to Russian buyers, Brazil's secretary of agricultural policy, Seneri Paludo, said on Thursday.
Brazil's enthusiasm for Russia comes as Moscow's relations with the rest of the West are at Cold War-era lows. Russia banned all imports of U.S. food products and certain goods from the European Union, Australia, Canada and Norway after President Vladimir Putin ordered retaliation for sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.
In a further snub to Washington, U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden was granted a three-year residence permit in Russia, his lawyer said on Thursday. Brazil's relations with Washington also cooled after revelations last year that the United States spied on President Dilma Rousseff's personal e-mails.
As the world's top exporter of beef, chicken and soybeans, and one of the only countries in the world with land available to ramp up agricultural production, Brazil is a clear winner from the embargo. But smaller countries like Argentina and Chile could benefit, too.
"Russia has huge potential as a consumer of agricultural commodities," Paludo told journalists in Brasilia, comparing the "window" opened by the embargo to the "revolution" that Brazil's exports experienced when China's commodities market opened a decade ago.
Brazil's beef association Abiec said 58 of the 90 plants were for beef - 27 for fresh meat, and 31 for processed. Brazilian food companies, like chicken exporter BRF SA and meat packer JBS SA, stand to benefit. The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Continuación...