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Barack Obama

FACTBOX: U.S.-Russia trade has grown, despite strains

(Reuters) - President Barack Obama travels to Russia next week for talks with Russian President Dimitry Medvedev on nuclear disarmament and a range of other issues.

Here are some facts on trade between the United States and Russia, which has grown rapidly in recent years despite strains in the relationship:

* U.S. imports from Russia have increased sharply over the past decade, growing from $5.75 billion in 1998 to $26.78 billion in 2008. More than half of the imports last year were petroleum goods. Russia is the United States’ 28th largest export market, buying $9.33 billion of U.S. goods last year.

* The top U.S. exports to Russia are meat and poultry. Sales totaled nearly $1.4 billion in 2008, more than double five years ago. The rapid growth has been a reoccurring source of tension in U.S.-Russia trade relations.

* Russia banned imports of meat from several U.S. states in May on concerns related to the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu. The United States said the move was unjustified and has pressed to restore the meat trade.

* Russia is the world’s largest economy still outside of the World Trade Organization. Moscow has blamed both the United States and the European Union for its failure to join after 16 years of accession talks.

* The United States and Russia struck a deal in 2006 on the terms of Moscow’s entry in the WTO. But Washington says Russia still has not met all the obligations of the agreement, particularly in areas involving meat trade and combating piracy and counterfeiting of American goods.

* U.S. software, music and movie industry groups estimate they lost at least $2.6 billion in sales in Russia in 2008 because of high piracy rates.

* Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin recently threw Moscow’s WTO accession bid into confusion by announcing Russia would only join as part of a customs union with two former Soviet republics, Kazakhstan and Belarus.

* Many U.S. lawmakers still oppose lifting a Cold War-era restriction on trade with Russia, known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment. This tied normal trade relations with the Soviet Union and other centrally planned economies to the rights of Jews and other religious minorities to emigrate freely.

* The White House has found Russia in compliance with Jackson-Vanik since 1994. But U.S. lawmakers have resisted lifting the measure until Russia completes its WTO accession negotiations.

* U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, whose home state of Delaware is a major poultry producer, went from supporting a repeal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment to opposing it in 2002 after Russia imposed a cap on U.S. poultry imports. Biden was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time.

Reporting by Doug Palmer; editing by Chris Wilson

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