U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) voted Thursday to normalize trade relations with Russia to help create jobs in Delaware by allowing U.S. businesses to take better advantage of the emerging Russian market. The Senate voted to approve the measure, 92-4.
"Permanently normalizing trade relations with Russia opens the door to new opportunities for job creation in Delaware," Senator Coons said. "With this vote, the Senate agreed that we cannot allow outdated, Soviet-era policies to prevent healthy, robust trade with the fast-growing Russian market. This legislation creates substantial opportunities for Delaware businesses in the agricultural sector and beyond."
Delaware has a strong trade relationship with Russia, importing over $1 billion in Russian products in 2011 and exporting nearly $10 million in Delaware products to Russia the same year. Nearly 60% of Delaware's exports to Russia are from the poultry industry, an important job creator in Kent and Sussex counties. Other agricultural exports to Russia, including live cattle, represent important growth opportunities. The Port of Wilmington has exported nearly 20,000 head of cattle to Russia this year, setting a pace for a nearly 60% increase over last year. Russia is currently the single largest market for livestock exporters, valued at more than $200 million and growing.
"The creation of permanent normal trade relations between America and Russia by eliminating the nearly 40-year-old Jackson-Vanik law will help put America's chicken industry on a more even footing with other nations that have not had trade impeded by a law that that was enacted when conditions were very much different in what was then the Soviet Union," said Bill Satterfield, executive director of Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. "Failure to repeal Jackson-Vanik would have allowed Russia to discriminate against American companies. Continuing to export $300 million of poultry to Russia annually from throughout America will help chicken growers and chicken companies on the Delmarva Peninsula, regardless of how much Delmarva product moves to Russia. Keeping foreign markets anywhere stocked with products from anywhere in America is helpful to our local chicken industry."
"The Port of Wilmington's main bilateral trade with Russia includes exported Holstein heifer cattle," explained Gene Bailey, executive director for the Diamond State Port Corp./Port of Wilmington. "In 2012, several thousand head of cattle were exported to Russia from the Port of Wilmington -- a significant increase over last year. Russia's economy is strengthening and its demand for livestock is enormously favorable for the future. Today's vote is critical to securing and promoting this strong trade while creating more family-sustaining jobs in Delaware and throughout the U.S."
"Russia PNTR will place U.S. companies on a level playing field with their European and Asian competitors, who currently have preferential access to improved business rules Russia has negotiated in order to join the World Trade Organization," said Barry M. Granger, vice president, DuPont Government Marketing & Government Affairs. "Granting Russia PNTR status ensures American companies have access to those same rules and can compete in the growing Russian market."