The Senate Finance Committee is holding a hearing this morningto examine “Russia’s WTO Accession: Administration’s Views on the Implications for the United States.” The hearing panel includes U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns.
In his testimony, Mr. Kirk emphasized that the Russia will become a member of the WTO no later than August 22. Further, he said
“Since we concluded the 18-years long multilateral negotiations on Russia’s WTO accession package last year, the President and members of the Administration have repeatedly urged Congress to terminate application of the Jackson-Vanik amendment and authorize the President to provide Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to Russia before it joins the WTO later this summer.”
Russia will join the WTO after the Russian legislature approves the WTO accession package, which was finalized in December 2011. The USTR website provides an overview of the terms and conditions of Russia’s accession to the WTO, as well as U.S. export opportunities that will accompany Russia’s membership in the WTO. The NAM signed a coalition letter sent this morning to the Senate Finance Committee. State-by-state fact sheets outlining export opportunities in Russia are also available online.
Earlier this week, President Obama and President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement to confirm their commitment to strengthen close and cooperative relations. In part, the statement said:
“An important step in this direction is Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which has become possible thanks to our joint efforts. In order for WTO rules and mechanisms to apply to our bilateral trade, the Obama Administration is working closely with the U.S. Congress to terminate, as soon as possible, application of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment with respect to Russia and extend Permanent Normal Trade Relations to the Russian Federation. The United States has also welcomed and offered its support to Russia’s pursuit of membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).”
Also, yesterday six former U.S. Trade Representatives sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging Congress to establish PNTR with Russia.
Lauren Airey is director of trade facilitation policy, National Association of Manufacturers.