“Congress Should Act Swiftly to Ensure That the United States is not on the Outside Looking in,” Says Donohue
WASHINGTON, D.C.— U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue applauded the introduction today of bipartisan legislation in the Senate to extend Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to Russia. The bill was introduced by Senators Max Baucus (D-MT), John Thune (R-SD), John Kerry (D-MA), and John McCain (R-AZ).
“Senators Baucus, Thune, Kerry, and McCain should be commended for introducing legislation to extend PNTR to Russia to ensure that U.S. exporters and workers can sell their goods and services in the world’s 11th largest economy. Congress should act swiftly to ensure that the United States is not on the outside looking in when Russia formally joins the WTO this summer.”
Russia is expected to join the WTO after completing a host of economic reforms. Among other actions, Russia must further open its market to imported goods and services, strengthen the rule of law, protect intellectual property, and safeguard foreign investors.
To secure the benefits of an open Russian market for U.S. firms, Congress must approve PNTR for Russia and graduate Russia from the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974, which was devised to press the Soviet Union to allow the emigration of Jews and prisoners of conscience. Since Russia established freedom of emigration for all citizens two decades ago, Jackson-Vanik has accomplished its objective and should be repealed.
“It’s a common mistake to think Jackson-Vanik gives the United States leverage over Russia,” added Donohue. “On the contrary, keeping Jackson-Vanik on the books allows Russia to discriminate against U.S. companies. Unless Congress moves quickly to approve Russia PNTR, American workers, farmers, and companies won’t get the full benefits of these reforms.”