Russia PNTR and the American Workers
Subscribe today for Free Enterprise Updates
- Latest business trends and best practices
- News about legislation and regulation impacting business
- Business how-to articles from industry experts
- Commentary and interviews with newsmakers in business and politics
Tomorrow, the House Committee on Ways and Means will mark up legislation to grant American workers, farmers, and companies significantly improved access to the growing Russian market. Known as Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR), this legislation enjoys strong bipartisan support.
Unfortunately, a handful of labor unions have expressed opposition. But in doing so, at least one union has demonstrated it doesn’t understand the facts — namely, that the Russia PNTR bill exclusively benefits Americans.
The International Association of Machinists (IAM) writes that it “opposes the admission of Russia to the World Trade Organization (WTO).” But Congress isn’t even voting on this question. Russia’s accession to the WTO is a done deal; it is 100% confirmed; and it will happen in 28 days.
The IAM also thinks that the “U.S. government should require substantive improvements in Russia’s human rights record before even considering extending trade benefits.”
Again, this misrepresents the bipartisan PNTR legislation. As the U.S. Chamber wrote today to the Committee on Ways and Means: “Contrary to popular misconception, PNTR does not extend any ‘trade preferences’ to Russia; rather, it exclusively benefits U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and companies selling their goods and services in the Russian market. The United States gives up nothing -- not a single tariff -- in approving PNTR.”
As the Chamber explained:
Russia will join the World Trade Organization (WTO) on August 22, 2012. To reach this goal, Moscow was required to implement a far-reaching package of legal and regulatory changes that will further open its market to imports, safeguard intellectual property, and ensure greater respect for the rule of law.
The result will be more U.S. exports and more American jobs. U.S. companies see huge potential in Russia, which boasts the ninth largest economy in the world and a growing middle class. Of the top 15 U.S. trading partners, Russia was the market where American companies enjoyed the fastest export growth last year (38 percent).
However, the United States won’t get the full benefits of Russia’s market-opening reforms unless Congress approves legislation establishing PNTR with Russia.
The Chamber congratulates the Ways and Means leaders —Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI), Trade Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX), and Trade Subcommittee Ranking Member Jim McDermott (D-WA) — for their leadership on this vital legislation and wishes them all the best in tomorrow’s markup.