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the world's 11th largest market, and the combination of its growing middle class, industries seeking to modernize and outdated infrastructure all point to opportunities for U.S. firms.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.
Adams and Reese LLP
Aerospace Industries Association
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Almaz Capital Partners
Altrius Group, LLC
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
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
Burlington International Group
Business Software Alliance (BSA)
California Chamber of Commerce
California Poultry Federation
Case New Holland Inc.
Cisco Systems, Inc.
Coalition of Service Industries
Coalition for Intellectual Property Rights (CIPR)
The Coca-Cola Company
Corn Refiners Association
Council for U.S.-Russia Relations
Deere & Company
Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.
The Walt Disney Company
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, Inc.
The Dow Chemical Company
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
Ford Motor Company
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
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
Lawson International, Inc.
Lazare Kaplan International Inc.
Limco Logistics, Inc.
Los Alamos Technical Associates
Mid-Atlantic - Russia Business Council
Minnesota Turkey Growers Association
Mississippi Economic Council – The State Chamber of Commerce
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
PBN H&K Strategies
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
The Poultry Federation
Priestley International Consulting
Procter & Gamble Company
RDO Equipment Co.
RSR Russia LLC
Russia Innovation Collaborative, LLC
Russian American Foundation, Inc.
Russin & Vecchi LLP
SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association
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.
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
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Washington Council on International Trade
Westney Consulting Group
William T. Robinson, PLLC
Wisconsin Poultry & Egg Industries Association
WorldBusiness Capital, Inc.
SOURCE Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade