ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, U.S. — The U.S. Senate Finance Committee on July 18 passed a draft bill that would establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia, the world’s sixth largest economy.

The American Soybean Association (ASA) said it now encourages the Senate to take up the bill as quickly as possible, and calls on the House to move forward with a companion bill in order for the U.S. to capitalize on Russia’s accession package to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Importing more than $770 million in meat, poultry, egg and dairy products in 2011, Russia is an important market for the U.S. soy industry.

“The 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, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Nebraska, U.S. “The demand in Russia for poultry, pork, eggs, dairy products and other items that use soy inputs is already significant and continues to grow as the Russian economy grows. With today’s vote, the U.S. soy industry is one step closer to expanding an already beneficial and positive relationship with a valuable partner.”