Bipartisan legislation was introduced on Tuesday in the U.S. Senate to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia and repeal the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment.  The legislation was introduced by the Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), International Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member John Thune (R–SD), Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Armed Services Committee Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ).

The National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) in a joint press release applauded the introduction of the bill.

“We appreciate the efforts of Sens. Baucus, Kerry, Thune and McCain for their introduction of this bill that will repeal the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment and create new jobs and boost the U.S. economy,” the poultry groups said.  “As Russia enters into the WTO later this summer, PNTR will ensure that poultry companies can take full advantage of new business opportunities, that Russia’s commitments entering the WTO are enforced and that American businesses are on an equal playing field in the Russian market.”

Members of the World Trade Organization formally approved late last year Russia’s terms for membership in the organization.  But for U.S. companies to benefit from Russia’s accession, it will be necessary for Congress to permanently remove Russia from the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974 and authorize the president to extend PNTR to Russia. Jackson-Vanik requires Russia and seven other former Soviet states and non-market economies to comply with free emigration policies before enjoying normal trade relations with the United States. Since 1994, the United States has certified annually that Russia complies with the amendment’s provisions and has conferred normal trade relations (NTR) status.

While Russia is home to 142 million consumers and maintains one of the world’s largest economies, it is the largest economy not yet formally subject to the global trading rules of the WTO.

Russia is currently the third largest export market for U.S. broiler meat and is the 10th largest export market for U.S. turkey.

“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,” the groups noted.  “The Senate will not be voting on Russia’s WTO accession, rather it will be voting on giving the United States equal accession to general tariff reductions, market opening measures and the ability of U.S. interests, such as poultry, to seek trade relief, if necessary, through the WTO.

“The U.S. poultry industry encourages swift action on this legislation to establish PNTR before Russia joins the WTO,” urged the groups.  “This gives the United States the best chance of enjoying the full economic benefits that comes with Russia’s WTO membership.”