The US Senate has approved legislation granting permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Russia and Moldova, lifting a long-standing restriction on trade.

The move will allow US companies to benefit from Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in August - providing them with greater access to new Russian customers and stronger protection to address trade disputes under the rules-based global trading system.

"The United States strongly supported Russia's accession to the WTO, because it is in the interest of our exporters and the Americans they employ to bring Russia more fully into the global trading system," said US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

"With the signing of this legislation, American businesses and workers are closer to enjoying the full economic benefits of Russia's WTO commitments."