KENNEBUNKPORT, MAINE, AUG. 13 -- In an effort to expand U.S.-Soviet economic cooperation, President Bush today lifted the ceiling on the number of Soviet business people who can take up temporary residence in the United States.

"This action is taken as an expression of our policy to build a more normal economic relationship with the Soviets," Bush said in a statement issued by the White House here, where Bush is spending much of August on vacation.

"The time has come to eliminate obstacles to commercial presence in both of our countries and to allow the number of resident business people to grow in tandem with the expansion of our economic relations," Bush said.

The president said the change in the ceiling also was consistent with the U.S. position at the Houston economic summit in July, in which the president argued in favor of technical assistance to the Soviet economy instead of cash assistance.

Bush said he expects the Soviets to reciprocate by allowing more American business people to live and work in the Soviet Union.

The Soviets are eager to develop greater business relationships with American companies. At present, however, only 69 Soviet citizens other than diplomats are allowed to be in the United States for any length of time. Bush's order removes that lid.

Administration officials expect the number of Soviet business people to increase only modestly in the next few years, although they are prepared for a substantial growth in Soviets visiting the United States. According to one administration estimate, 85,000 Soviets will visit the United States this year on a temporary basis.

Administration officials said they would review the change in policy after six months and would closely monitor Soviet activity to assure that the Soviets do not use it to bring more intelligence agents into the United States.