Sign-On letter on Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:
We, the undersigned chambers of commerce and other business and agricultural organizations, urge you to approve legislation to extend Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia this summer.
In a welcome development for American workers, farmers, and companies, Russia will join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in July. Russia is by far the largest economy in the world that has yet to join the WTO, and doing so will require Moscow to further open its market, safeguard intellectual property and investments, and strengthen the rule of law.
The result will be more U.S. exports and more American jobs. U.S. companies see huge potential in Russia, which boasts the 9th largest economy in the world and a growing middle class. Of the top 15 U.S. trading partners, Russia was the market where American companies enjoyed the fastest export growth last year (38%).
However, the United States will not get the full benefits of these market-opening reforms unless Congress approves a short and simple bill establishing PNTR and graduating Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
The 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment was crafted to press the Soviet Union to allow the emigration of Soviet Jews and prisoners of conscience. With regard to Russia, Jackson-Vanik has fully accomplished its objective. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia established freedom of emigration for all citizens. Since 1992, U.S. presidents of both parties have issued annual certifications of Russia’s full compliance with the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
It’s a common mistake to think Jackson-Vanik gives the United States leverage over Russia. On the contrary, keeping Jackson-Vanik on the books allows Moscow to deny the benefits of those market-opening reforms to American workers, farmers, and companies — and to do so with the WTO’s blessing.
Failure to approve PNTR and graduate Russia from Jackson-Vanik would put the United States at a unique disadvantage in the Russian market. Meanwhile, European and Asian companies will be able to build on their already significant head start in tapping the growing Russian market.
Approval of this legislation will translate directly into new export sales and jobs here at home. The President’s Export Council estimates that U.S. exports to Russia—which, according to estimates, topped $11 billion in 2011 — could double or triple once Russia joins the WTO. Meanwhile, the United States gives up nothing — not a single tariff — in approving PNTR with Russia.
We urge you to act this summer to approve PNTR and graduate Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.