Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) pushed in a Committee hearing today for Congress to repeal the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Amendment and establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia to boost U.S. exports and create jobs here at home. If Congress establishes PNTR, Baucus noted, American exports to Russia are expected to double within five years of Russia joining the World Trade Organization (WTO).
"In order for U.S. businesses and workers to benefit from Russia joining the WTO, Congress must pass PNTR and repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment. Russia's entry into the WTO will be a one-way economic benefit that boosts our exports and creates jobs in the United States, so repealing Jackson-Vanik is an absolute no-brainer," Baucus said. "Jackson-Vanik served its purpose and helped millions of Jews emigrate freely, but it is now a relic of the past. Every President, regardless of political party, has waived Jackson-Vanik's requirements for Russia for the past 20 years. And repealing Jackson-Vanik weakens the ability of the hardliners in Russia to rally anti-American forces. Russia is joining the WTO regardless of what the United States does, so we need to take advantage of this one-way opportunity to boost our economy and create jobs here at home while we can."
Russia will join the WTO later this year, and as part of the WTO accession process, it is required to lower tariffs and increase market access for foreign businesses. Russia's legislature is expected to ratify it's accession package by July 2012 and 30 days later, Russia will become a member of the WTO. Congress must pass legislation that repeals the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment and establishes PNTR with Russia, or American businesses will begin losing out to competitors in China, Europe and the more than 150 other WTO member nations. The benefits of passing PNTR will be one-way, helping to boost the U.S. economy and create jobs here at home across every sector of the economy -- services, manufacturing and agriculture included. The U.S. is not required to make any market access or tariff concessions to Russia as part of the WTO accession process.
Baucus discussed the Jackson-Vanik amendment's success in pressuring the former Soviet Union to allow its Jewish population emigrate freely, and pointed out every President for the last 20 years has waived Jackson-Vanik's requirements for Russia. He also noted several recent letters written by transparency, democracy and human rights activists in Russia supporting Jackson-Vanik repeal.
Last month, Baucus traveled to Russia to meet with senior government officials, as well as U.S. and Russian business leaders and democracy and human rights activists, to discuss key economic, trade, foreign affairs and human rights issues and to pursue new trade opportunities for U.S. businesses, ranchers and farmers. While there, he toured a John Deere facility, where the company takes American-made parts and completes the final stages of assembly in Russia, to learn about how American manufacturers can capitalize on increased market access. Baucus, along with his fellow trade leaders in Congress, has insisted on holding Russia to a high standard through the WTO accession process to guarantee that American businesses, ranchers, farmers and workers benefit.
Baucus has long fought for a robust trade agenda that supports American jobs through strong enforcement of our current agreements and an aggressive pursuit of new markets. The Finance Committee has jurisdiction over international trade.