On Friday, the House voted to support a bill that would improve U.S. trade relations with Russia. Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) voted for the bill.
"Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization opens its markets and presents great opportunities to the U.S. economy. This measure ensures that we are able to take full advantage of those opportunities by complying with WTO requirements. I voted to pass the bill and support normal trade relations with Russia," said Hanabusa.
"By establishing normal trade relations with Russia, the administration and economists have predicted that U.S. exports of goods and services, currently at $11 billion annually, could double in five years. It is important that we are ready to reap the benefits of those growing markets. I believe that played a significant role in this bill's gaining bipartisan support.
"In joining the WTO, Russia has committed itself to bringing its trade laws and practices into compliance with WTO regulations, and has taken a major step in meeting WTO rules and other market-opening measures. The world is changing, and our laws should change to reflect those new realities."
H.R. 6156, the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act, authorizes President Obama to grant permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status for Russia.
In August, Russia became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which means it has committed to bring its trade laws and practices into compliance with WTO rules and integrate its trading system with the rest of the world.
In order to ensure that U.S. companies benefit from Russia's WTO membership, the bill seeks to repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974 which was devised to press the Soviet Union to allow the emigration of Soviet Jews, prisoners of conscience, and victims of religious persecution. With the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago, Russia established freedom of emigration for all citizens, and U.S. presidents of both parties have issued annual certifications of Russia's full compliance with the Jackson-Vanik amendment. The United States would also be in violation of WTO rules if it did not repeal this Cold War-era amendment.
The bill also includes a provision that imposes sanctions on Russian officials involved in human rights violations.
H.R. 6156 passed the House by a vote of 365 to 43 and now heads to the Senate.