By a vote of 365 to 43, the House passed legislation Friday providing Permanent Normal Trade Relations to Russia and Maldova. This legislation repeals the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment and includes new human rights-related sanctions on Russia and trade enforcement measures. House Ag Chair Frank Lucas says this action will provide additional value and increased access into a growing market for U.S. farmers and ranchers through lower tariffs and more certain trade rules. American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman agrees farmers and ranchers will have more certain and predictable market access as a result of Russia’s commitment not to raise tariffs on any products above the negotiated rates and to apply international food safety standards in a uniform and transparent manner.
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus has called on the Senate to pass a PNTR measure after the Thanksgiving recess to get it on President Obama’s desk before the end of the year. Until Congress enacts a PNR, Baucus says American businesses will continue losing out on export opportunities in the Russian market to competitors in China, Europe and other World Trade Organization member nations. American Soybean Association President Steve Wellman says ASA also calls on the Senate to pass its version of this bill with the same expediency and bipartisan cooperation as their House counterparts so American soybean farmers can reap the benefits of this new partnership. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk says the vote brings the U.S. one step closer to the day when its businesses and workers will enjoy the full benefits of Russia’s WTO membership.