Congressman Jim Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat and co-chair of the New Democrat Coalition Trade Task Force, today delivered the following prepared remarks on the House floor on the "Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012" (H.R. 6156) to establish permanent normal trade relations with Russia. The bill passed in the House of Representatives by 365-43.
"Our vote today could not come at a more critical time, as you all know, the Russian Duma has ratified WTO accession and Russia has had full rights and responsibilities of a WTO member since mid-August. Today, we will cast a long-overdue vote that that reflects that reality.
"Unfortunately, because of our untimely delay in repealing Jackson-Vanik and establishing PNTR with Russia, all the members of the WTO except the United States are now fully benefiting from increased access to the growing Russian market, which is the world's 9th largest economy.
"We all share serious concerns with the ongoing human and political rights situation in the Russian Federation, but the maintenance of Jackson-Vanik does nothing to address those concerns.
"But what the Jackson-Vanik restrictions do is deny the United States and our business the ability to fully take advantage of the benefits of Russian accession to the WTO both in terms of market access and trade enforcement.
"Furthermore, the bill we will vote on today includes a strong version of the Magnitsky bill designed to address ongoing human-rights abuses in Russia.
"The late Congressman Charlie Vanik, the House author of the Jackson-Vanik amendment became a constituent of mine after he left the House. When discussions of PNTR for Vietnam came up in the late 90s, Congressman Vanik actually wrote me a letter explaining that the time when his bill was necessary had passed. Basically, he said his legislation today was counterproductive and should be repealed.
"PNTR will provide the United States with important benefits and new jobs at no cost to us.
"With PNTR, American companies will be able to take full advantage of lower Russian tariffs, stronger intellectual property protections, and other market-opening concessions that the Russians agreed to as part of joining the World Trade Organization.
"Unlike the United States, many of our allies, but also our competitors, have had the ability to use the WTO's dispute settlement process to help ensure Russia honors its new WTO commitments. This is particularly important in a market such as Russia's which is relatively new to market capitalism and continues to present serious problems for foreign businesses. In many areas it's still a kleptocracy.
"Anders Aslund and Gary Hufbauer from the Peterson Institute for International Economics predict that US exports to Russia should double within 5 years after accession to the WTO. Evidence from countries that joined the WTO between 2000 and 2010 suggest this statistic to be true, and maybe even a conservative estimation. If Exports to Russia grow at the same rate as they did for exports to Ukraine and the Baltics, exports could triple, approaching $30 billion. This would place Russia among America's large second tier- markets, such as Australia, India and France.
"Every day we do not pass PNTR is a day where we put this opportunity in jeopardy by according a competitive advantage to non-American companies doing business in Russia.
"We have the opportunity now to pass bipartisan legislation that advances American economic interests. Now that the partisan considerations of the election season are behind us we cannot continue to dither and allow that opportunity to pass us by."