Russia PNTR with Love

Nov 13, 2012

Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg.

There could be some good news on the trade front. This week, the House of Representatives will vote on a bill to approve permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia.

"This is a true jobs bill, and it won’t cost the taxpayer one penny,” U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue said.

It’s about time. Russia joined the World Trade Organization nearly three months ago, putting U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage to those in Europe and Asia. In a letter to Members of Congress, a coalition of more than 500 businesses and associations--including the U.S. Chamber--stated:

For nearly eighty days now, Russia has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). For nearly eighty days now, all of the other 155 members of the WTO have been able to fully access Russia's market liberalizations, including new rules related to services, science-based animal and plant health, and intellectual property protection - but U.S. businesses cannot. For nearly eighty days now, U.S. business has had no voice in the WTO's rules-based system to engage Russia regarding any of its policies that may be inconsistent with the obligations it has undertaken as a WTO member. Without PNTR, the United States has no enforceable rights and no recourse in the Russian market.

The U.S. Chamber also sent House Members a Key Vote Letter prior to their vote making this point:

PNTR exclusively benefits U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and companies selling their goods and services in the Russian market. The United States gives up nothing—not a single tariff—in approving PNTR.

It would be great for American workers and businesses for the lame duck Congress to finish the job on the Russia PNTR.

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