Washington, D.C. – The U.S.-Russia Business Council (www.usrbc.org) and the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade (www.usrussiatrade.org) – a broad-based group of approximately 150 U.S. corporations, trade associations and small businesses actively seeking to increase U.S. exports and jobs with increased trade with Russia, including the National Chicken Council – on Friday welcomed a letter from 73 House Republican freshmen to President Obama that stressed a commitment to working together to ensure opportunities for American entrepreneurs and workers through increased trade with Russia. The Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade is housed at the U.S.-Russia Business Council (USRBC).
USRBC President and CEO Edward Verona applauded the letter, saying “We are delighted to see a record number of House Republican freshmen demonstrating leadership on an issue that seeks to sustain U.S. competitiveness in a growing market. Russia, the 9th largest economy in the world, is poised to become a WTO member in a matter of weeks, and U.S. manufacturers, service providers, farmers and their workers should have access to the same economic reforms and market-opening measures that their foreign competitors will as part of Russia’s WTO accession. We urge President Obama and Congressional leadership to work together to see through enactment of PNTR by the August recess.”
NCC President Mike Brown echoed Verona’s appreciation for the House members’ effort and added, “As Russia enters into the WTO later this summer, PNTR will ensure that poultry companies can take full advantage of new business opportunities, that Russia’s commitments entering the WTO are enforced and that American businesses are on an equal playing field in the Russian market.”
Russia’s Duma passed legislation affirming Russia’s WTO package of commitments on July 10, and its Senate will consider the package next week. As soon as the Russian president signs this legislation and notifies the WTO, Russia will automatically become a WTO member 30 days later. However, U.S. companies and farmers will not have access to the key benefits of Russia’s WTO accession until there is affirmative legislation passed by the U.S. Congress acknowledging Russia’s compliance with the Jackson-Vanik amendment and making Russia’s normal trade relations (NTR) status permanent. The U.S. President has the authority to extend normal trade relations to countries, but permanent NTR status requires action by the U.S. Congress. Since 1994, both Republican and Democratic U.S. presidents have found Russia in compliance with Jackson-Vanik.