U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today issued the following statement after the Senate approved legislation granting Russia permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status, which allows the U.S. to level the playing field for our exporters and also provides an avenue to resolve trade disputes:
"Trade, particularly with large and growing markets like Russia, is good for Nebraska's farmers, ranchers and manufacturers," Johanns said. "American workers have been losing out to other countries when it comes to exports to Russia. This legislation will allow us to level the playing field and gives us another tool to address trade complaints.
"Concerns remain about Russia's record in the areas of human rights and trade, so we must keep a watchful eye and seize our new, normalized trade relationship as an opportunity to encourage progress on these fronts."
* Russia officially joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in August, but the United States cannot fully benefit from Russia's membership without granting them PNTR status, which is not possible without repealing the Cold-War era Jackson-Vanik amendment of the Trade Act of 1974.
* Jackson-Vanik requires the president to deny normal trade relations for countries restricting the freedom of emigration. The president can determine that a country is in compliance with Jackson-Vanik and waive trade restrictions on an annual basis. Presidents have issued waivers for Russia every year since 1992. In spite of presidential waivers, the United States cannot use the WTO's dispute settlement process with Russia unless Congress permanently removes application of Jackson-Vanik, thus granting Russia PNTR.
* The WTO has been an important tool for the United States to ensure a level playing field for our products on the world market.
* In July, the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees passed legislation granting PNTR status to Russia. The full House of Representatives passed the legislation in November by a vote of 365-43.