WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- At the Oval Office in the White House today, Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT) Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman said the signing of legislation to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia is a great example of how more open trade will benefit the United States and its trading partners. Oberhelman was among a select group of people invited by President Barack Obama to witness the bill signing for the legislation, which normalizes trade with Russia, following that country's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) earlier this year. The legislation had strong bipartisan backing in Congress and the support of the Obama Administration. "I am honored to attend this historic event, and feel this law is proof that our leaders in Washington can set aside party affiliations and cast the right votes that are in the best interest of the United States and, in this case, an important trading partner like Russia," Oberhelman said. "By joining the WTO, and with the signing of this law, the United States and Russia have set the stage for a new era of trade, job creation and investment that should benefit the economies of both countries," Oberhelman said. "Without PNTR, American companies that export to Russia would have remained at a competitive disadvantage compared to European and Asian-based companies that export to Russia." Russia imported nearly $300 billion in goods in 2011, yet the United States accounted for only five percent of those imports. Russia is the sixth largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power, but it was ranked 31 st among all export markets for U.S. goods in 2011. "This new law can help to improve those figures by expanding trade opportunities and the jobs associated with exports," Oberhelman said.