With the House and Senate on the verge of normalizing trade relations with the Russian Federation, representatives of the Farm Bureau testified on Capitol Hill on the importance of increased agricultural trade in Eastern Europe.
For more than 40 years, U.S.-Russian trade relations have been governed by the Jackson-Vanik amendment, a provision of federal law restricting trade to certain nations. Jackson-Vanik is a remnant of the Cold War. Passed in 1974, the amendment blocks trade relations with non-market economies (the Communist bloc) and limits trade normalization with nations restricting emigration and human rights (actions that the Soviet Union was notorious for).
With the Cold War over and with Russia on the brink of joining the World Trade Organization, members of the Obama administration and key congressional leaders have advocated repealing Jackson-Vanik and granting Russia permanent normal trade relations. According to Wayne Wood, president of the Michigan Farm Bureau, “PNTR makes permanent the trade status the U.S. has extended to Russia on an annual basis since 1992. It recognizes Russia’s joining the World Trade Organization, which will provide our farmers and ranchers with more certain and predictable market access.”
Some politicians, however, are wary of normalizing trade relations without some commitment from the Russian government to protect key human rights. In particular, Russia’s support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his brutal crackdown of Syrian protestors has led some Senators to withhold their support for increased Russian trade.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer