The Senate’s passage of legislationnormalizing trade between the U.S. and Russia on Thursday (Dec. 6) is being applauded by agriculture groups.
The legislation will allow the United States “to take advantage of the trade benefits resulting from Russia’s admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in August,” said the American Soybean Association (ASA) in a statement. “With a vote of 92-4, the Senate passed the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012. ASA asks President Barack Obama to swiftly sign the bill into law to graduate Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1974 and establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with the world’s ninth-largest economy.”
“ASA congratulates the Senate for passing the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act today and urges the president to sign it into law so U.S. farmers can compete in one of the world’s largest and most promising economies,” said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb.
Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran said he expects Mississippi will benefit from Senate passage of legislation to expand trade relations status to Russia.
A statement from Cochran’s office said the legislation (HR.6156) also links Russia’s trade status with the United States to fundamental human rights compliance.
“This action should open doors for more exports from Mississippi. Although we already ship agricultural and manufactured goods to Russia, this act gives Mississippi the chance to create more jobs and economic activity through expanded trade with Russia, Moldova and other nations,” Cochran said.
“The legislation also addresses some of the troubling reports of human rights abuses occurring in Russia. That nation must understand that the United States expects it to comply with certain human rights standards to fully enjoy the benefits of trade with us,” he said.
The measure is supported by the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and agricultural producers in the state. Mississippi in 2011 exported $55 million in goods to Russia, according to the Business Roundtable. The Magnolia State ranks twenty-ninth among states overall in trade with Russia, primarily through exports of poultry and agriculture products, paper, computer and electronic equipment, machinery, furniture and fixtures.
In 2010, Cochran was among a number of U.S. Senators who pressured the Obama administration and the Russian government to resolve a dispute over U.S. poultry. In January 2010, Russia implemented a complete ban on U.S. poultry imports citing concerns over chlorine rinses used by American producers -- an internationally-recognized method used to ensure product safety.
The ASA said that as part of its accession to the WTO, Russia will be obligated to bind its agricultural tariffs, adding more predictability to the trading relationship and opening export opportunities for the U.S. agricultural industry. WTO membership will also require Russia to adhere to internationally-recognized scientific standards when regulating meat imports, thereby ensuring greater predictability for U.S. exporters seeking to supply the Russian consumer market.