In an effort to improve trade opportunities for Minnesota's farmers and livestock producers, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) today voted to pass bipartisan legislation that would give American producers fuller commercial access to the Russian marketplace and enhance the U.S.' ability to combat unfair trade practices. It also gives the U.S. more power to sanction gross human rights violations by Russian officials.
"This legislation will increase American access to Russian markets, allowing Minnesota's producers and companies to create jobs and grow our economy," said Sen. Franken. "Minnesota's farmers and livestock producers grow the best food products in the world, and agricultural exports bring millions of dollars into our state's economy every year. I'm pleased that both houses of Congress passed this bill, which also gives us new tools to fight Russian human rights abuses, with strong bipartisan support, and I urge President Obama to sign it into law."
The Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act establishes permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia under the Trade Act of 1974. It also directs and empowers the President to sanction Russian individuals involved in gross human rights violations. Russia's economy is the 11th largest - and one of the fastest growing - in the world. In 2011, Minnesota exported $71 million worth of goods to Russia, and Minnesota exports in the first half of 2012 grew 77 percent over the same period the year before. The improved access Minnesota producers and companies will get with PNTR should enable them to export even more to Russia.
The legislation, which was already passed by the House of Representatives, passed the Senate by a vote of 92-4 and now heads to the President's desk for his signature.