Momentum Builds for Russia PNTR
Congress often holds major trade votes in July, and this year may be no exception. Momentum is building to approve legislation to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia before it joins the World Trade Organization (WTO) in August.
The need for speed is obvious. Joining the WTO will require Moscow to further open its market to imports, safeguard intellectual property, and strengthen the rule of law. But if Congress fails to act before the August recess, Russia will be free to deny U.S. workers, farmers, and companies the full benefits of its market-opening reforms. America risks being left behind again as European and Asian companies build on their head start in the world’s ninth largest market.
The good news is that momentum is building. Last week, an astounding 73 House Republican freshmen — the highest number of signatures on a freshman letter in this Congress — signed a letter to President Obama insisting that “the Administration and Congress need to act quickly to authorize Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia.”
Tomorrow, the Senate Finance Committee will mark up four trade bills, with most attention focused on the bill to extend PNTR to Russia. Chairman Max Baucus and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch are showing terrific leadership in the effort and working closely together.
To support this effort, the Chamber has conducted an aggressive campaign for approval of PNTR with Russia alongside its partners in the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade, including:
- Meeting with more than 250 members of Congress to make the case for approval of the legislation;
- Presenting our arguments in letter after letter, including one sent today to the Senate Finance Committee, and through publications such as our primer on PNTR;
- Organizing a national letter to Congress (sent today) backing PNTR with Russia and signed by more than 65 state and local chambers of commerce across the country, showing the breadth of support from coast to coast;
- Releasing a collection of “Faces of Trade” profiles (also today) of U.S. small and mid-sized companies that are already seizing the benefits of exporting to Russia — but that stand to benefit even more once Russia joins the WTO and Congress approves PNTR;
- Publishing new ads (here and here) in Capitol Hill publications that make the case for PNTR with Russia.
We are reaching out to Senate Finance Committee members today and hope to see a strong vote in favor of PNTR with Russia. With Russia’s accession to the WTO set for August, we can’t afford to wait.