Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said this week Russia is interested in expanded cooperation with the United States on a broad range of issues, including more bilateral trade in agriculture, according to the Russian presidential press service.

Russian government officials said that Russia’s upcoming entry into the World Trade Organization would open up new opportunities to develop trade in agricultural products with the United States  and Russian Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik added that U.S. businesses have indicated to her office an increased interest in investing in the Russian agricultural sector.  Bilateral trade in agricultural products amounted to $1.4 billion in 2010, including $1.3 billion in U.S. agricultural exports into Russia, according to the Russian Agriculture Ministry.

President Medvedev met this week in Moscow with Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.  The meeting focused on matters connected with repeal of the Jackson-Vanik freedom-of-emigration amendment to the Trade Act of 1974.  Russian authorities have urged the United States to repeal Jackson-Vanik before Russia becomes a full member of the World Trade Organization later this year.  Last month, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia could not abide by its WTO commitments with the United States if Jackson-Vanik remained in force.  Repeal of Jackson-Vanik is necessary before Russia can be granted permanent normal trade relations status (PNTR).