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November 19, 2012

House Passes Russia PNTR During Lame Duck

For more information on Newsline, contact: Kari Barbic, Media Specialist, American Farm Bureau Federation, karib@fb.org.

Making trade with Russia easier could be a nice boost for the U.S. economy. According to American Farm Bureau Trade Specialist Dave Salmonsen, that’s an important step closer to happening. AFBF’s Johnna Miller has the story.
Miller:The House of Representatives did get something important done in this lame duck session of Congress before heading home for Thanksgiving. They passed Permanent Normal Trade Relations – or PNTR – for Russia. Why is that a big deal?
Salmonsen:The importance of that bill is that the United States cannot fully recognize or take advantage of Russia’s new membership in the World Trade Organization if we have what are called “conditional trade relations.”
Miller:American Farm Bureau Trade Specialist Dave Salmonsen says that’s because of Cold War era restrictions. But until the Senate passes the House version of the bill and the president signs it, the U.S. is at a competitive disadvantage.
Salmonsen:Right now the U.S. exports over $1.5 billion a year in ag products to Russia. Certainly a lot of room for growth there. Russia is over a $30 billion a year food importer and growing all the time. And our main issue to get the bill through has been since August of this year, when Russia formally joined the WTO, all the other countries that sell into Russia have had advantage of the better tariffs, better food safety standards.
Miller:But Salmonsen thinks that could all get done before the end of the year. 
Salmonsen:With this very good vote, 365-43 positive vote in the House, sends a strong signal to the Senate. This is something that’s approved on an overwhelmingly bipartisan manner and that needs to get done.
Miller:Johnna Miller, Washington.
Miller:We have two extra actualities with AFBF Trade Specialist Dave Salmonsen. In the first extra actuality he explains why getting permanent normal trade relations with Russia is a big deal. The cut runs 19 seconds, in 3-2-1.
Salmonsen:We do have a bilateral trade treaty with Russia, but so often our discussions of anything to do with trade also bring in all the other issues in our bilateral relationship. But now with dispute settlement, we’ll have access to the WTO regime. We can talk about trade issues in a purely trade forum and with many other countries joining with us.
Miller:In the second extra actuality Salmonsen talks more about the advantages of PNTR for Russia. The cut runs 14 seconds, in 3-2-1.
Salmonsen:What Russia has done is said that they will change their laws, and they have done so, to be in line with, agree with the international food safety standards that the U.S. trades with the rest of the world about. And that is a big change. 
Miller:Newsline will be updated Monday, Nov. 26th due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. Thank you for listening.

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