Two Georgia-based chicken and egg trade groups have joined more than 500 other trade associations and businesses in calling for the U.S. Congress to approve legislation establishing permanent normal trade relations with Russia.

The USA Poultry & Egg Export Council in Stone Mountain and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association in Tucker have joined the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade in urging President Obama to push for Russia’s removal from the so-called JacksonVanik amendment. 

Jackson-Vanik is a 1974 U.S. provision prohibitiing normalized trade relations with countries that have non-market economies and restrict freedom of emigration and other human rights. 

Without permanent normal trade relations, the concessions Russia made to join the World Trade Organization in August on issues like tariffs and intellectual property rights don’t apply to American companies.  

Meanwhile, according to the coaltion, U.S. competitors in Europe, China and elsewhere “step in and take advantage of meeting Russia’s needs not only in infrastructure and modernization of its industrial base, but also the demands of a growing consumer class that is highly educated and appreciates quality.”

“The time for Congress to act is now,” said Randi Levitas, the coalition’s executive director, in a press release. “We simply cannot afford to sit idly by and continue to put U.S. exports and jobs at risk when we know there is strong bipartisan support for this legislation in both chambers.” 

The issue featured prominently at the U.S.-Russia Business Council‘s annual meeting in Atlanta in October. 

Ed Verona, president and CEO of the council, said it makes little sense to leave American firms at a disadvantage given the fact that the United States pushed the hardest for Russia’s WTO accession. 

“You can spend 20 years building a market presence. You can lose it very quickly. Your competitors can basically piggy back on everything you’ve done, and if you’re knocked out, then they can build on, and then you’ve got to come back and fight that. That, to me – it’s just absurd,” Mr. Verona told Global Atlanta at the conference.