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Senate Finance Committee Unanimously Passes Russian Trade Bill

Senate Finance Committee Unanimously Passes Russian Trade Bill

Permanent normal trade relations with Russia may soon become reality.

Efforts to establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia are moving forward with Wednesday's unanimous vote by the Senate Finance Committee to move the country from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1974.

The move would allow the United States to trade freely with Russia under WTO standards.

The original bill was introduced to the Senate by Senators Max Baucus, D-Mont., John Kerry, D-Mass., John McCain, R-Ariz. and John Thune, R-S.D. in June.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack testified in front of the committee in support of the bill. He said that it represents a "significant opportunity" to American producers.

Permanent normal trade relations with Russia may soon become reality.

Ag interests that represent those producers are also pleased with the vote, as Russia ranks among the top 10 economies in the world.

"Today's unanimous passage of the draft bill establishing PNTR with Russia is a very encouraging move by the Senate Finance Committee, and we congratulate Committee Chairman Baucus and Ranking Member Hatch on their work to solidify U.S. business opportunities abroad," said ASA President Steve Wellman in a statement Wednesday.

Wellman said the demand in Russia for products that use soy inputs is high, and the vote allows ASA to expand an existing and valuable partnership.

Not only would the establishment of PNTR provide benefits to production agriculture interests, the Association of Equipment Manufacturers says that trade with Russia is of value to the companies they represent.

"U.S. equipment manufacturers largely depend on the ability to have the same opportunities to benefit from normal trade relations as other countries," said AEM President Dennis Slater. "Leveling the playing field for U.S. businesses and workers will propel our economy and create more jobs at home."

The full Senate will now have to address the bill to move forward.

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