Business leaders want normal trade relations with Russia
A jobs sign is seen on the front of the US Chamber of Commerce building in this December 13, 2011 file photo in Washington, DC.
August 22nd, 2012
12:57 PM ET

Business leaders want normal trade relations with Russia

By Jill Dougherty

As Russia finally joins the World Trade Organization, U.S. business leaders are warning Congress that American companies could be left in the dust as other countries move in to take advantage of Russia's lower trade barriers.

"The whole world is ready - except the United States. Until Congress approves PNTR (permanent normal trade relations legislation) with Russia, Moscow will be free to deny the United States the full benefits of its reforms," said a statement from U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Thomas J. Donohue.

Congress broke for its August recess without passing PNTR legislation. The Chamber and other business organizations are calling on legislators to pass it when they return in September.

The United States is a member of the WTO but still has Cold-War-era legislation - the so-called Jackson-Vanik amendment - governing its trade relations with Russia. The amendment was passed in 1974 as a way of pressuring Russia to allow Soviet Jews to emigrate. That's no longer an issue, but the amendment remains on the books. The United States waives it every year, but it still violates WTO rules requiring members of the organization to give each other permanent normal trade relations.

"By standing still on trade, America risks being left behind once again," Donohue's statement said. "Because of our inaction on PNTR, European and Asian companies have won a head start in the Russian market."

"PNTR exclusively benefits Americans selling their goods and services in the Russian market. The United States gives up nothing - not a single tariff - in approving it," he added. "It's a true jobs bill, and won't cost taxpayers one penny."

The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) joined the Chamber of Commerce Wednesday in calling on Congress to pass PNTR legislation immediately upon returning to Washington following the August recess.

"Now that Russia has acceded to the WTO, the United States has an opportunity to become a bigger economic player in one of the fastest-growing economies in the world - but only if Congress passes PNTR legislation," said NFTC President Bill Reinsch.

"If Congress does not act quickly, American companies, exporters and workers will be at a competitive disadvantage in the Russian market....Granting permanent normal trade relations is not a favor to Russia, instead it is necessary step to help stimulate U.S. economic growth and job creation by expanding trade with the world's ninth-largest economy. The U.S. cannot afford to miss out on this opportunity," said NFTC Vice President Dan O'Flaherty.

Even if many members of Congress support ending the Jackson-Vanik amendment, some still think Washington needs a way of holding Russia's feet to the fire on human rights and other issues. Some lawmakers support the "Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act," named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. He died in 2009 after a year in prison, apparently beaten to death, after revealing official corruption.

Under that law, which is not linked to trade and has not yet been passed, the United States would deny visas and freeze the assets of Russians linked to Magnitsky's death or to other human rights abuses.

soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Virtual Debit Card

    Its such as you read my mind! You seem to understand a lot approximately this, such as you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you just could do with some % to pressure the message house a bit, but instead of that, this is great blog. A great read. I will certainly be back.

    September 19, 2012 at 12:59 am | Reply
  2. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Doing business in Russia today is like doing business in Shanghai in the 20s. Your success depends on which government official you have on your side (or in your pocket). Any Russian-based company that finds itself on the outs with Vladimir Putin (generally for making a profit without cutting Vlad and his cronies in on the deal, or by supporting any of Vlad's rivals) will find their owners prosecuted on trumped-up charges and all their assets confiscated. This includes any funds or material from their US-based partners.

    August 24, 2012 at 11:10 am | Reply
    • Roman

      You work for the Pentagon, I can see it from miles away. I own business in Russia. Everything you said is a lie.

      September 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Reply
  3. StanCalif

    Just what is the defintion of "normal trade relations"? American business men are ill equipped to do business with the Russian oligarchs! Now that "king" Putin runs the country again, any American business investing in Russia is subject to being taken over if any profits are created! American business leaders are much too gullible and naive to deal with the Russian system!

    August 23, 2012 at 7:55 am | Reply
    • Roman

      You are another Pentagon TROLL. NO?
      What? You are a businessman???

      September 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Reply
  4. Zaki Murumkar

    Zaki Murumkar

    August 23, 2012 at 4:53 am | Reply


    LEADERS: L.K. Advani/ Ashok Singhal/ Bala Saheb Devaras/ Bal Thackeray/ A.B. Vajpayee/ Savarkar/ Baikunnth Lal Sharma “Prem”/ Balraj Madhok/ The Shankaracharya of Puri, Niranjan Dev Theerth/ Rama Gopalan/ Variyar – Vishwan Hindu Parishad/ Dharmalinga Nadar/ Cho Ramaswamy

    August 22, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  6. saeed

    this is kind of sugar candy for a kid they want good relation with russia so russia will allow them to bomb syria so they usa and britain can play superpower of course they want to avoid any conflict with another nuclear armed country.

    August 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Reply

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