U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today said he expects Mississippi will benefit from Senate passage of legislation to expand trade relations status to Russia.
The legislation (HR.6156) also links Russia's trade status with the United States to fundamental human rights compliance. The Senate approved the measure on a 92-4 vote, clearing the way for it to be sent to the White House. The House of Representatives passed the bill, 365-43, on Nov. 16.
"This action should open doors for more exports from Mississippi. Although we already ship agricultural and manufactured goods to Russia, this act gives Mississippi the chance to create more jobs and economic activity through expanded trade with Russia, Moldova and other nations," Cochran said.
"The legislation also addresses some of the troubling reports of human rights abuses occurring in Russia. That nation must understand that the United States expects it to comply with certain human rights standards to fully enjoy the benefits of trade with us," he said.
The measure is supported by the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and agricultural producers in the state. Mississippi in 2011 exported $55 million in goods to Russia, according to the Business Roundtable. The Magnolia State ranks 29th among states overall in trade with Russia, primarily through exports of poultry and agriculture products, paper, computer and electronic equipment, machinery, furniture and fixtures.
In 2010, Cochran was among a number of U.S. Senators who pressured the Obama administration and the Russian government to resolve a dispute over U.S. poultry. In January 2010, Russia implemented a complete ban on U.S. poultry imports citing concerns over chlorine rinses used by American producers--an internationally-recognized method used to ensure product safety.