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U.S. Chamber Primer Urges Passage of Bill Normalizing Trade Relations with Russia PNTR

Tuesday, March 13, 2012 - 8:00pm

‘Exclusively Benefits the U.S.,’ Says Brilliant

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Ahead of a Senate Finance Committee hearing tomorrow on Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and related U.S. legislation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today released a new publication entitled The U.S. Chamber’s PNTR Primer: Why Approving Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia Is in the U.S. National Interest.

“The Chamber urges Congress to make approval of PNTR with Russia a top 2012 priority,” said U.S. Chamber Senior Vice President for International Affairs Myron Brilliant.  “Our primer explains how Russia will open its market as it joins the WTO, but American workers and companies won’t benefit unless Congress approves PNTR, which exclusively benefits the United States.”

Russia is expected to join the WTO in July as it completes 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freedom of emigration for all citizens two decades ago, Jackson-Vanik has accomplished its objective and should be repealed.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 Brilliant.  “On the contrary, keeping Jackson-Vanik on the books allows Russia to discriminate against U.S. companies — and do so with the WTO’s blessing.”

As the Chamber’s PNTR Primer explains, Russia is the world’s 11th largest economy and the last major one to join the WTO.  The President’s Export Council estimates that U.S. exports of goods and services to Russia—which reached an estimated $10 billion in 2011—could double or triple once Russia joins the WTO.

The Chamber also submitted testimony today for the record to the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the need to approve PNTR with Russia.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.