The American Farm Bureau Federation has announced its top trade priority for the year is establishing Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia. The country, as a result of long running negotiations with the World Trade Organization, is able to enact many trade-related reforms and join the WTO in July. Howeverk, for the U.S. to be guaranteed access to Russia's market, Congress must enact PNTR. AFBF President Bob Stallman says this is a critical step toward ensuring the U.S remains competitive in that market.
"U.S. farmers will have more certain and predictable market access as a result of Russia's commitment not to raise tariffs on any products above the negotiated rates and to apply international food safety standards in a uniform and transparent manner," Stallman said.
U.S. ag exports to Russia for 2012 are forecast at $1.4 billion and Russia has a strong capacity for growth in importing poultry, pork and beef from the United States. "With this potential for expanding meat exports, obtaining PNTR with Russia is even more important," said Stallman. "Russia's membership in the WTO will provide significant commercial opportunities for U.S. agriculture."
The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to look at extending PNTR for Russia last week. Before that meeting the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade, which comprises businesses from a wide range of industries, sent a letter to the committee urging them 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," stated the Coalition. "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."