Today the House overwhelmingly approved a bill to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia by a vote of 365-43. The NAM issued a Key Vote letter supporting the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (H.R. 6156) yesterday.
Russia officially joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in August and passage of PNTR legislation has languished, allowing other nations to take advantage of Russia’s WTO membership while the United States remained on the sidelines.
“Russia’s admission into the WTO was a positive step for global trade – and the recent House action on PNTR is yet another step toward ensuring market access for manufacturers in the United States,” said Alcoa, Inc. Vice President for Global Public and Government Affairs and NAM Russia Trade Relations Task Force Chairman Daniel Cruise. “On behalf of NAM’s Russia Trade Relations Task Force, I urge the Senate to quickly pass a bill for the President to sign so that manufacturers in the U.S. can compete on a level playing field in Russia.”
Manufacturers urge the Senate to take up PNTR legislation quickly. Without PNTR, manufacturers in the United States will continue to have a significant disadvantage in the growing Russian market. Russia imported nearly $300 billion in goods in 2011, yet the United States accounted for less than 5 percent of those imports. Clearly, there is room for growth.
Manufacturers of all sizes will benefit from the commitments Russia has made as a member of the WTO to reduce tariffs and non-tariff barriers, protect intellectual property and adopt key commercial rules to level the playing field in the Russian market. More than 80 percent of the approximately 5,000 companies in the U.S. that currently export to Russia are small- or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and these SMEs account for nearly half of all U.S. exports to Russia. These companies exported $2.1 billion of goods to Russia – and those exports could reach $4.2 billion by 2014, according to some estimates.
With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the borders of the U.S. we must take full advantage of opportunities to open new markets to create jobs and grow our economy.
Lauren Airey is director of trade facilitation policy, National Association of Manufacturers.