Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus is headed to Russia to promote Montana exports and highlight the benefits to American jobs when Russia formally joins the World Trade Organization (WTO) - specifically the ability of Montana ranchers to increase beef sales. Baucus will meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other top officials in Moscow, including Russia's Agriculture Minister, as well as American and Russian business leaders and civil society activists.
Baucus heads the Senate Committee that oversees trade and is leading efforts in Congress to ensure American businesses can reap the full benefits of Russia's accession to the WTO.
"Doing business is all about building relationships and gaining trust, and Montanans understand the value of looking someone in the eye and shaking their hand," Baucus said. "A couple years ago I went to China and met with a leading wind energy company, and now they're building a wind farm near Shawmut. I'm excited to see what connections I can make for Montana's workers and businesses through this trip to Russia."
While in Moscow, Baucus will also spend time with the U.S. Ambassador to Russia Dr. Michael McFaul, who was born in Glasgow, Montana, and graduated from Bozeman High School.
"I am very happy to welcome a fellow Montanan to Russia," Ambassador McFaul said. "It's so valuable to have leaders, like Senator Baucus, who understand the importance of our relationship with Russia and the potential this market holds for world-class Montana goods and services."
In addition to focusing on trade promotion and jobs, Baucus will also meet with civil society activists ahead of Russia's upcoming elections.
"I'm fighting hard for improved and expanded trade relations with Russia because that supports Montana jobs. At the same time, it's also important for the Russian people to know America will always stand on the side of democracy and the rule of law," Baucus said
Russia in the WTO
American exports of goods and services into Russia are expected to double to $19 billion within five years of Russia's accession to the WTO.
Ø Specifically for Montana, Russian accession will significantly expand market access for American beef, by allowing 60,000 tons of U.S. beef to be sold in Russia under a reduced tariff of 15 percent. Russia is already America's 5th largest export market for American beef by volume.
In order for American companies to receive the full benefits of Russia joining the WTO, the U.S. Congress must pass legislation providing Russia with what is known as Permanent Normalized Trade Relations (PNTR) before Russia formally joins the WTO. As Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, with sole jurisdiction over international trade, Baucus is leading efforts to ensure PNTR is passed this year.
Russia agreed to open its markets and follow WTO rules as part of its accession to the WTO. Unlike a free trade agreement, the United States will not have to grant any market access benefits to Russia as part of its accession.
WTO member countries formally invited Russia to join the WTO in December 2011. Russia will become a WTO member 30 days after it ratifies the accession agreement, which it must do by early July.