ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, U.S. — The American Soybean Association (ASA) joined more than 150 organizations from across the business community on March 14 in submitting a letter urging the U.S. Senate Finance Committee to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia.

"The pork and poultry industries, which use soybean meal in animal feed, are poised to see great success in Russia as income levels rise and the demand for meat increases. What benefits these industries benefits soybean farmers," said ASA First Vice-President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Mississippi, U.S. "Those potential positives, however, hinge on further expansion of trade to Russia. The establishment of PNTR with Russia is critical to our ability to increase soybean exports into Europe’s largest consumer market and the world’s 11th largest economy."

As part of the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade, which comprises businesses from a wide range of industries, ASA advocates the graduation of Russia from the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974, enabling Congress to approve PNTR before Russia’s expected entry into the WTO later this summer.

"This legislation is crucial in order for U.S. manufacturers, service providers, agricultural producers and their employees to take advantage of the many market opening and transparency commitments that form Russia’s accession package to the WTO," the Coalition said. "PNTR also gives the United States a powerful tool by enabling the United States to ensure that Russia abides by those commitments through internationally binding WTO dispute settlement."

The U.S. has maintained normal trade relations with Russia since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992. Growth in the Russian animal protein industry has led to a significant increase in demand for soybeans over the past decade. Russia’s main import partners, however, are Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, leaving room for growth within the market for U.S. soybean exports.

"Russia is an important part of U.S. business’ global strategy to create and sustain jobs at home by enhancing our long-term competitiveness abroad. Many U.S. companies have developed vibrant, profitable and rapidly-growing business and trade with Russia, with clear strategic benefits to parent companies, exports from, and employment in the U.S.," said the Coalition. "Without PNTR, U.S. companies and their employees will be left behind our competitors in this growing and profitable market."