The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomes the introduction of a Senate bill that would graduate Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1974, and authorize President Barack Obama to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with the world’s sixth largest economy.

ASA urges the immediate passage of the bipartisan bill introduced by Montana Sen. Max Baucus, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Dakota Sen. John Thune, which enables the United States to take advantage of the many market opening commitments that form Russia’s accession package to the World Trade Organization, to which the country was formally invited in late 2011.

Russia is a leading export market for U.S. soy, meat, poultry, egg and dairy products, importing more than $770 million in these products last year.

“Today’s announcement from (Baucus, Kerry, McCain and Thune) is an exciting one for farmers,” said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb. “As Russia’s economy and purchasing power grows, Russian demand for soy products, poultry, pork, dairy and eggs grows as well, and that’s great news for American soybean farmers.”

Russia is home to more than 140 million consumers and a fast-growing economy. 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.

The establishment of PNTR with Russia is different from a free trade agreement, in that the move will not require the U.S. to provide any market access benefits, lower any U.S. tariffs, or make other changes to our trade laws as a result of Russia’s WTO accession

ASA represents all U.S. soybean farmers on domestic and international issues of importance to the soybean industry. ASA’s advocacy efforts are made possible through the voluntary membership in ASA by more than 21,000 farmers in 31 states where soybeans are grown.