No Action on Permanent Trade Relations with Russia
USAgNet - 09/21/2012
Approving permanent normal trade relations with Russia was added this week to the long list of things Congress declined to do before leaving for fall campaigning.
Russia officially joined the World Trade Organization in August, ending a negotiation process first started in 1993.
However, the United States has yet to grant the country PNTR status, which the WTO mandates all countries do for other members. This means U.S. exporters will not have access to the full benefits of the country's membership.
Russia has been granted normal trading relations status by the U.S. on an annual basis since the early 1990s. Committees in both the House and Senate have approved measures to grant PNTR to Russia and Moldova but action has yet to happen in either full chamber, largely for political reasons.
On Wednesday, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk urged Congress to take up PNTR upon their return in November for a lame-duck session.
Russia's WTO accession will provide the U.S. and other WTO members improved trade access to that market and stronger mechanisms to enforce the country's commitments to domestic supports, export subsidies and state trading enterprise disciplines.
While some U.S. agricultural sectors will gain new exports from Russia's accession to the WTO, Russia does not import U.S. wheat, so the country's membership will benefit U.S. wheat producers primarily by providing new checks on Russian export and domestic support policies.
The Senate Finance Committee reports that U.S. exports to Russia currently total $9 billion per year and are expected to double in five years with PNTR.