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US, Russia to Expand Bilateral Trade

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said President Obama has pledged to work to repeal a Cold War-era law that restricted trade with the Soviet Union.

The Jackson-Vanik amendment was put in place to pressure Moscow to allow religious minorities and other citizens to leave the USSR. Russian officials said such restrictions ended long ago, making the law a needless barrier to expanded trade.

Russian-U.S. trade currently stands at about $36 billion a year. At this week's U.S.-Russian summit, officials and business executives of both nations said that is way below the potential for such trade.

The summit set the stage for announcing $1.5 billion in expanded U.S. investment in Russia along with efforts to expand bilateral trade.

U.S. companies - including soft-drink maker Pepsi, farm machinery manufacturer John Deer and aircraft builder Boeing - pledged to expand their stake in the Russian market over the next few years.

U.S. officials and businesses said trade and investment in Russia would grow more quickly if there was less corruption and bureaucracy and more rule of law.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.