Business Coalition Urges Legislation to Keep U.S. Firms Competitive in Russia's Growing Market

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The U.S. business community, organized under the umbrella of the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade (www.usrussiatrade.org) – a broad-based grouping of more than 150 U.S. corporations,  trade associations and small businesses active in trade with Russia – today released a letter urging the U.S. Congress to take action on legislation to ensure that U.S. manufacturers, farmers and service providers can continue to increase their exports and maintain their international competitiveness by accessing commercial opportunities in the Russian market.  The letter defines the necessary legislation – action on Russia's graduation from the Jackson-Vanik amendment and Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia -- as "the top trade priority on the U.S. business community's legislative agenda this year."  Russia will join the World Trade Organization (WTO) by mid-summer, and U.S. congressional action is essential to ensure that U.S. firms can benefit from Russia's WTO commitments.

Russia is the world's 11th largest market, and the combination of its growing middle class, industries seeking to modernize and outdated infrastructure all point to opportunities for U.S. firms.  "Russia made significant market-opening and trade-liberalizing commitments as part of its WTO accession.  These commitments are legally binding under WTO rules.  Additionally, the transparency provisions of Russia's WTO accession will likely help improve the business environment in Russia.  Only with PNTR in place can U.S. firms access all of Russia's WTO commitments," said Randi Levinas, Executive Director of the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade and Executive Vice President of the U.S.-Russia Business Council (www.usrbc.org).  

However, at present, the United States' trade relationship with Russia is tied to  a provision of U.S. trade law (the Jackson-Vanik amendment) enacted in the 1970s to condition normal trade relations (NTR) status on the then-Soviet Union's willingness to let Jews emigrate freely.   That law has long since fulfilled its purpose: each year since 1994, consecutive U.S. Administrations – both Republican and Democrat – have found Russia in compliance with Jackson-Vanik. Nevertheless, to fully access Russia's WTO commitments, the U.S. Congress must graduate Russia from the amendment and make Russia's NTR status permanent.

"We do not make one concession to Russia in granting PNTR," added Levinas.  "PNTR is only about benefits for U.S. firms, farmers and workers.  It's about having the opportunity to access a growing market and the ability to share U.S. values through our best business practices." 

The Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade, housed at the U.S.-Russia Business Council, is committed to strengthening U.S.-Russian commercial ties and preserving the competitiveness of U.S. firms, farmers and workers in the Russian market.  For more information, please visit the Coalition website at www.usrussiatrade.org.

The text of the letter follows:

March 14, 2012

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:

The undersigned members of the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade strongly urge you to support legislation that will graduate Russia from the Jackson-Vanik amendment and establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia. The Coalition comprises businesses from across the goods, services and agricultural sectors of the economy.  Russia's graduation from Jackson-Vanik and PNTR is the top trade priority on the U.S. business community's legislative agenda this year.

This legislation is crucial in order for U.S. manufacturers, service providers, agricultural producers and their employees to take advantage of the many market opening and transparency commitments that form Russia's accession package to the World Trade Organization (WTO). PNTR also gives the United States a powerful tool by enabling the United States to ensure that Russia abides by those commitments through internationally binding WTO dispute settlement.

The Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974 was enacted with the chief purpose of ending the policy that prevented emigration of Jews from the then-Soviet Union. With respect to Russia, the Jackson-Vanik amendment has successfully accomplished its objective. Russia terminated its exit fees on Jewish emigrants in 1991, and today Russian Jews can freely emigrate. Since 1992, U.S. Presidents of both parties have certified annually that Russia complies with the Jackson-Vanik amendment's provisions, and this has allowed the United States to maintain Normal Trade Relations (NTR) status with Russia. Now is the time for Congress to end this certification process and make this normal trading status permanent. 

Since no other WTO member has a law similar to Jackson-Vanik, all of Russia's trading partners except the United States will immediately benefit when Russia joins the WTO, which is expected to happen by mid-summer. If Congress fails to enact PNTR with Russia before then, U.S. industry will be on the sidelines of Russia's market, at a disadvantage for lucrative contracts, and without the full tools provided by a WTO relationship.

Russia is the world's 11th largest economy and is already Europe's largest consumer market.  We have seen Russia's growing demand for high quality goods and services. Yet many of Russia's WTO commitments that will greatly improve its business climate, such as its adherence to the rules of the international trading system with respect to intellectual property rights, science- and risk-based regulation for animal and plant health, and liberalizations in key sectors such as services will be out of the United States' reach -- unless Congress passes Russia PNTR legislation.

Russia is an important part of U.S. business' global strategy to create and sustain jobs at home by enhancing our long-term competitiveness abroad. Many U.S. companies have developed vibrant, profitable and rapidly-growing business and trade with Russia, with clear strategic benefits to parent companies, exports from, and employment in, the United States.  Without PNTR, U.S. companies and their employees will be left behind our competitors in this growing and profitable market.  

We strongly urge you to pass the legislation that will enable the U.S. economy to take advantage of Russia's accession to the WTO by supporting legislation to graduate Russia from Jackson-Vanik and enacting PNTR with Russia when it comes up for a vote.

Respectfully,

3M

ACE Group

AGCO Corporation

Abbott Laboratories

Adams and Reese LLP

Aerolase Corporation

Aerospace Industries Association

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

Alcoa, Inc.

Almaz Capital Partners

Altrius Group, LLC

Amway

American Automotive Policy Council (AAPC)

American Chamber of Commerce in Russia

American Chemistry Council (ACC)

American Council of Life Insurers

American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Feed Industry Association (AFIA)

American Forest & Paper Association

American Foundry Society

American Institute for International Steel

American Natural Soda Ash Corporation (ANSAC)

American-Russian Business Council

American Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation

American Soybean Association

Amgen

Argus Limited

Association and Society Management International, Inc.

Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)

Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association

BP America, Inc.

Baker & McKenzie

Bank of America

Baring Vostok Capital Partners

Berry Moorman PC

The Boeing Company

Brown-Forman Corporation

Burlington International Group

Business Roundtable

Business Software Alliance (BSA)

CRDF Global

California Chamber of Commerce

California Poultry Federation

Cargill, Inc.

Case New Holland Inc.

Caterpillar, Inc.

Celgene

ChemDiv, Inc.

Chevron Corporation

Cisco Systems, Inc.

Citi

Coalition of Service Industries

Coalition for Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR)

The Coca-Cola Company

Colliers International

ConocoPhillips Company

Corn Refiners Association

Corning Incorporated

Covidien

Council for U.S.-Russia Relations

Cummins, Inc.

Deere & Company

Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.

The Walt Disney Company

Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Inc.

The Dow Chemical Company

DuPont

EcoLab

Economic Alliance Snohomish County

Eli Lilly and Company

Emergency Committee for American Trade (ECAT)

Emerging Markets Communications LLC

Ernst & Young

Eurasia Partners, LP

Exxon Mobil Corporation

Fluor Corporation

Ford Motor Company

GBCHealth

General Electric Company

General Motors Company

Goldman Sachs & Co.

Greater Houston Partnership

Grocery Manufacturers Association

Guardian Industries Corporation

Herbalife International of America, Inc.

Hermitage Museum Foundation (USA), Inc.

Hormel Foods Corporation

IBM

INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry

Indiana State Poultry Association

Information Technology Industry Council (ITI)

International Business-Government Counsellors, Inc. (IBC)

International Paper Company

Iowa Turkey Federation

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Johnson & Johnson

Kalorama Partners, LLC

Kraft Foods

Lawson International, Inc.

Lazare Kaplan International Inc.

Limco Logistics, Inc.

Lindsay Corporation

LORD Corporation

Los Alamos Technical Associates

MARS, Incorporated

Mattel, Inc.

Medtronic, Inc.

MetLife

Microsoft Corporation

Mid-Atlantic - Russia Business Council

Minnesota Turkey Growers Association

Mississippi Economic Council – The State Chamber of Commerce

Monitor Group

Morgan Stanley

National Association of Manufacturers

The National Barley Growers Association

National Chicken Council

National Corn Growers Association

National Foreign Trade Council

National Oilseed Processors Association

National Turkey Federation

North Carolina Poultry Federation

Ohio Poultry Association

Oracle Corporation

PBN H&K Strategies

PepsiCo, Inc.

Pfizer, Inc.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

The Poultry Federation

Praxair, Inc.

Priestley International Consulting

Procter & Gamble Company

PwC

QUALCOMM

RDO Equipment Co.

RSR Russia LLC

Russia Innovation Collaborative, LLC

Russian American Foundation, Inc.

Russin & Vecchi LLP

SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association

Salans

Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA)

Siguler Guff & Co.

Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association

Stephen Bearden H.B. International Marketing Services, Inc.

Sweet Analysis Services, Inc.

TechAmerica

TechNet

Texas Instruments

Texas Turkey Federation

Torrey Pines Investment, LLC

Toy Industry Association

United States Council for International Business (USCIB)

United Technologies Corporation

U.S. Chamber of Commerce

U.S. Council for International Business (USCIB)

U.S. Poultry and Egg Association

U.S.-Russia Business Council

U.S.-Russia Chamber of Commerce

U.S.-Russia Chamber of Commerce of New England

The U.S.A. Dry Peas & Lentil Council

USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC)

Valmont Industries, Inc.

Virginia Poultry Federation

Visa, Inc.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

Washington Council on International Trade

Westney Consulting Group

William T. Robinson, PLLC

Wisconsin Poultry & Egg Industries Association

WorldBusiness Capital, Inc.

Xerox Corporation

 

SOURCE Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade



RELATED LINKS
http://www.usrussiatrade.org

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