Congress is working to grant permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status to Russia and Moldova before leaving for August recess.
Russia’s legislature last week approved entering the World Trade Organization (WTO), which will allow it to become a full WTO member in 30 days. WTO rules require permanent normal trading relations between members, prompting the timeline for changing the United States’ treatment of the country for trade purposes.
Russia has been granted normal trading relations status by the U.S. on an annual basis since the early 1990s, but this designation must be made permanent for the U.S. to fully enjoy the benefits of Russia’s WTO membership.
Russia’s accession to the trade body will provide the U.S. and other WTO members improved trade access to that market. It will also provide the WTO stronger mechanisms to enforce Russia’s commitment to domestic supports, export subsidies and state trading enterprise disciplines.
Russia already has WTO-style access to the U.S. market as a result of the annual normal trading relations designation and, after becoming a WTO member, would be able to use the same WTO mechanisms to enforce U.S. trade commitments.
The House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill Thursday make normal trading relations permanent, which could come to the House floor as soon as next week. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved a similar bill late last week.
The Joint International Trade Policy Committee between NAWG and U.S. Wheat Associates, which recommends trade policy to both organizations’ boards of directors, recently approved a resolution supporting giving Russia PNTR status.
While some U.S. agricultural sectors will gain new exports from Russia’s accession to the WTO, Russia does not import U.S. wheat. Their membership will benefit U.S. wheat producers primary by providing new checks on Russian export and domestic support policies, helping the U.S. and other trading partners ensure that a major competitor plays by the same global rules.
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 established. Russia is the world’s seventh-largest economy.
More about trade with Russia is available from the office of the U.S. Trade Representative at http://www.ustr.gov/russia.