The Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade on Thursday urged Congress to "move quickly" in the days ahead to approve legislation enacting Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia.
The umbrella trade group delivered a letter signed by more than 500 diverse companies and organizations to members of the U.S. Congress. Agricultural groups, including the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association and National Corn Growers were among the signatories on the coalition letter.
In a similar letter to President Barack Obama, the coalition urged the president to work with Congress to ensure the passage of legislation removing Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and establishment of PNTR with Russia.
In July, the Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed a draft bill that would complete the country's removal from Jackson-Vanik. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack testified in favor of the legislation.
Russia formally acceded to the World Trade Organization in August. The coalition's letter says U.S. competitors in Europe, China and elsewhere are happy to "step in and take advantage of meeting Russia's needs not only in infrastructure and modernization of its industrial base, but also the demands of a growing consumer class that is highly educated and appreciates quality."
The coalition suggests that until Congress passes Russia PNTR legislation, U.S. executives will be relegated to an "observer" status as foreign competitors "snap up contracts that will lock in commercial relationships for years to come."
Poultry groups signing the letters, the National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, say PNTR will ensure that poultry companies can tack advantage of new business.
"[PNTR ensures] that Russia's commitments in the WTO are enforced and that American businesses are on an equal playing field in the Russian market," the groups say. "Continuing to export $300 million of poultry to Russia annually will provide better incomes for more U.S. workers and additional poultry to be produced by a growing number of family farmers across America."