U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee’s Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs and Global Competitiveness, today praised the bipartisan House passage of legislation that would establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia. The bill (H.R. 6156) would encourage job creation at home by taking advantage of the new trade commitments that Russia has made as part of their recent accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). The legislation supports the creation of American jobs in nearly every sector of the U.S. economy including agriculture, manufacturing, and services. Similar legislation was introduced by Thune, Finance Chairman Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), and others earlier this year and passed the Senate Finance Committee on July 18, 2012. The House bill will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.
“We must continue to open markets in order to create new business opportunities for American entrepreneurs,” said Thune. “Action taken by the House today not only supports American jobs by promoting our products and services abroad, but it will also help to strengthen the rule of law and combat corruption and human rights abuses in Russia. Russia is the world’s sixth largest economy and the world’s fifth largest global importer of agricultural products, making it an important and growing market for U.S. businesses. I hope the Senate will quickly take action on this bipartisan legislation so that the president can sign this bill into law to ensure we do not delay job creation and major export opportunities both in South Dakota and across the country.”
Russia joined the WTO in August of 2012. As part of the accession process, Russia lowered tariffs and increased market access for foreign businesses from countries that have permanent normal trade relations with it. Congress must pass legislation establishing PNTR with Russia for the U.S. to enjoy the full economic benefits of Russia’s commitments.
Unlike a free trade agreement, the U.S. will not provide any new market access benefits, lower any U.S. tariffs, or make other changes to our trade laws as a result of Russia's WTO accession. PNTR simply allows American businesses to take advantage of Russia's concessions. These will include: additional market access for U.S. service providers; intellectual property enforcement; higher quotas for U.S. beef, poultry and pork producers; decreased Russian agriculture subsidies; science-based sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures; and dispute settlement to enforce WTO rules.