Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today in Moscow to promote Montana beef and other exports ahead of Russia's anticipated accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Today Baucus also met with Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, Minister of Trade Elvira Nabiullina, and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Dr. Michael McFaul, who was born in Glasgow, Montana, and graduated from Bozeman High School.
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.
"Russia represents a huge market for selling more Montana goods and services overseas, and we've seen before that meeting people face-to-face and building relationships pays off for Montana jobs," Baucus said. "We've got everything to gain and nothing to lose from Russia joining the WTO, especially for Montana beef producers, and I'm eager to lead the way for Congress to take the necessary steps to make sure Montana companies can reap all the benefits of this new partnership."
"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."
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.
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. Current tariffs fluctuate from 15 to 60 percent.
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.