House Passes Russia PNTR

November 21, 2012

On Friday, the House approved the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012 (H.R. 6156), by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 365 to 43. Upon enactment, the bill would establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia and Moldova.

Specifically, the bill removes a Cold War trade provision known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which requires the U.S. to review the trade status of some countries annually, and grant Russia permanent normal trade status.

On Dec. 16, 2011, the 153 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) invited Russia to join the organization, after Russia completed an 18-year accession process. The WTO requires each member to accord newly acceding members “immediate and unconditional” MFN status which is called NTR in U.S. law.

As part of its accession to the WTO on Aug. 22, Russia enacted reforms to further open its markets to imports, protect intellectual property, and strengthen the rule of law. WTO members are required to give each other permanent trade status, and failing to grant PNTR to Russia would mean the U.S. cannot benefit from the concessions Russia made when it joined the WTO. More than 150 countries have already moved to seize the commercial benefits of these reforms.

The measure now moves to the Senate for a vote, and final passage of PNTR with Russia will translate directly into new export sales and jobs here in the U.S.  Of the top 15 U.S. trading partners, Russia was the market where American companies enjoyed the fastest export growth last year—38 percent. The President’s Export Council estimates that U.S. exports to Russia—which, according to estimates, topped $11 billion in 2011 — could double or triple once Russia joins the WTO. Meanwhile, the U.S. gives up nothing, not a single tariff, in approving PNTR with Russia. PNTR would open the door to more U.S. exports and more American jobs.