The American Soybean Association (ASA) and more than 500 fellow members of the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade urged both chambers of Congress as well as President Barack Obama to approve legislation graduating Russia from the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act, and enacting Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with the world’s ninth-largest economy, which was admitted as a member of the World Trade Organization less than three months ago.
“For nearly eighty days now, all of the other 155 members of the WTO have been able to fully access Russia's market liberalizations, including new rules related to services, science-based animal and plant health, and intellectual property protection - but U.S. businesses cannot,” wrote the Coalition in the letter. “For nearly eighty days now, U.S. business has had no voice in the WTO's rules-based system to engage Russia regarding any of its policies that may be inconsistent with the obligations it has undertaken as a WTO member. Without PNTR, the United States has no enforceable rights and no recourse in the Russian market.”
Home to more than 140 million consumers and a fast-growing economy, Russia last year imported more than $770 million in U.S., meat, poultry, egg and dairy products, which require soybean meal as feed in the production process. That total contributed to more than $25 billion in soybean exports overall in 2011-2012, making soy the largest U.S. farm export.
“As the global economy expands and the world’s appetite for soy grows, we must continue to broaden our trade horizons and create opportunities for U.S. farmers to compete with their counterparts in other countries,” said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb. “Establishing PNTR with Russia helps American farmers compete in one of the world’s largest and most promising economies. We look forward to next week’s vote on this issue in the House and encourage the Senate to do the same during the lame duck session so that this legislation may be quickly enacted by the president.”
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.