According to a recent report by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), annual U.S. exports to Russia increased 29% in 2012 and are up another 10.5% through the first quarter of 2013 as compared with Q1 2012. Russia is the world’s sixth largest economy, and there continues to be an enormous opportunity for U.S. manufacturers to increase exports into this sizeable market.
On August 22, 2012, Russia became a formal member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) after 18 long years of negotiations. In December, Congress extended Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to Russia, terminating the Jackson-Vanick amendment. The full scope of the WTO rules, with an established system of enforceable multilateral trade rules, now apply to the United States and Russia. The report, published in June, was required by the PNTR legislation passed by Congress in December 2012.
Russia still has much to do, though, to fully comply with its WTO accession agreement. One of the concerns specifically addressed in the report is Russia’s discriminatory motor vehicle “recycling fee” on the sale of imported vehicles. USTR has been working with Russia on this issue, and the Russian legislature has since published a proposed amendment to revise the program to apply the fee to domestically produced vehicles. Russia has also failed to include several tariff lines in the submitted Information Technology Agreement (ITA) schedule. USTR indicates that after engagement from the U.S. and other WTO member nations on this issue, Russia has agreed to modify the schedule to include missing tariff line items and has sent the schedule to be reviewed by the Customs Union. Russia’s commitments on transparency and intellectual property rights continue to be a concern, as well. The report also includes updates on sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures, safeguard investigations, trade-related investment measures, the Government Procurement Agreement, and technical regulations governing alcoholic beverages. USTR is committed to monitoring the continued progress of Russia’s commitments to ensure that U.S. objectives are achieved.
Russia’s WTO commitments benefit U.S. businesses and workers by improving market access for good and services and by providing a rules-based system for dispute settlement resolution. The NAM strongly supported extending PNTR to Russia in 2012, and we will continue working to ensure that manufacturers have the tools they need to take advantage of expanding market opportunities in Russia.