U.S. Rep. Billy Long and 72 other members of his freshman class in the House sent a letter to President Obama encouraging the president to move forward with free and fair trade with Russia.
Long led the effort to rally his class to support this effort to boost trade opportunities for American farmers and businesses. Long and his colleagues support repealing a Cold War-era trade restriction so American businesses will not be at a disadvantage to international competitors when Russia joins the World Trade Organization (WTO). While the U.S. already trades with Russia, the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik provision would level the playing field for U.S. exports after Russia joins the WTO.
"I am glad that the vast majority of members in my freshman class in Congress signed this letter and support efforts to help our nation's manufacturers and farmers," Long said. "This is about doing what is right for our country and supporting efforts to create jobs for American families."
TEXT of letter from Long and colleagues to President Obama:
Dear Mr. President,
We write you as freshman Republican Members of the House of Representatives who recognize that the United States must continue to expand its export opportunities in order to increase economic opportunities and grow jobs here in the United States. We are committed to working with you to ensure that just such opportunities can be created for American entrepreneurs and American workers through increased trade with Russia when it joins the World Trade Organization (WTO) and through developing a comprehensive trade agenda moving forward.
Russia's entry into the WTO has been negotiated over nearly two decades by Administrations led by Republicans and Democrats alike to ensure Russia will open its agricultural, manufacturing and service markets and abide by core international trade rules. With Russia poised to join the WTO before summer's end, the Administration and Congress need to act quickly to authorize Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia and graduate Russia from the Jackson-Vanik provisions first enacted in 1974. Without authorizing PNTR, U.S. exporters and their workers will not be able to take advantage of this market and the United States will not be able to use the binding dispute-settlement provisions needed to ensure full enforcement of Russia's commitments.
Like many in the United States, we are greatly concerned by some aspects of the broader U.S.-Russian relationship and Russia's actions around the world. Yet we will only hurt ourselves and lose out on economic opportunities and needed jobs to our competitors around the world if we do not act quickly to remove unnecessary barriers to a full trade relationship with Russia.
Mr. President, it is our understanding that you support the effort to extend PNTR to Russia in a timely fashion and have expressed that support to Russia. We stand ready to work with you to achieve this goal and invite you to work with us, shoulder to shoulder, at all levels in order to swiftly move the necessary legislation through both houses of Congress. We believe this effort is important to complete a comprehensive trade agenda which will open markets not just in Russia, but across the globe, and will create economic growth and needed jobs here at home.