Monday, July 23, 2012

PNTR for Russia Progresses

Last week, Russia approved legislation ratifying the country's accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO). The measure making Russia the 156th WTO member will become law within 30 days.

Meanwhile, The Hill reported:  “The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved a Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) measure combined with a repeal of Jackson-Vanik last Wednesday. During the past several weeks, business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable have ramped up their push for passage of a trade bill before lawmakers leave town for the summer break.”

"This is a huge message to the House and is the momentum burst the business community has been hoping for," Christopher Wenk, senior director of international policy at the U. S. Chamber, told The Hill. "This is the one issue in Washington with bipartisan support in the House and the Senate that can be signed by the President; there's no other issue out there. This is a fantastic outcome."

The Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Committee announced (7/20) they are cosponsoring legislation to terminate Jackson-Vanik status for Russia and Moldova, allowing Permanent Normal Trade Relations to be granted.

Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, said, While this legislation removes Russia from the Jackson-Vanik amendment, . . . (t)he underlying bill promotes rule of law in Russia and addresses significant enforcement concerns, particularly on the protection of intellectual property rights and Russia’s compliance with WTO obligations. (P)assage of this legislation will mean growth for American industry and workers by taking advantage of reduction in barriers to U.S. exports from the beginning. . . I remain particularly concerned about Russian international engagement and the ongoing violence in Syria.”

Bruce Josten, the U.S. Chamber's executive vice president for Government Affairs, said "The United States gives up nothing - not a single tariff - in approving PNTR." And John Murphy, the Chamber's vice president for International Affairs, said in a Free Enterprise blog post last Tuesday: "Momentum is building . . . With Russia's accession to the WTO set for August, we can't afford to wait."

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