U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) issued the following statement today after casting a vote in favor of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia.
"For too long, both Democratic and Republican administrations have negotiated trade agreements that undermine -- rather than maximize -- American job creation. These agreements have failed to demand that our trade partners follow the same rules that we do," Brown said. "The Russia PNTR agreement learns from some of the mistakes of China PNTR and includes enhanced compliance and accountability measures to ensure that Russia meets its commitments--which will help expand export opportunities for American manufacturers and farmers. As in any trade agreement, these commitments must be adhered to--otherwise, they are not worth negotiating. Our workers, farmers, ranchers and producers should have confidence that if a trade deal is signed, it will actually be enforced.
"As the Administration look ahead to trade initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a U.S.-E.U. trade agreement, Congress can take new steps to ensure the benefits of expanded trade reach workers and small manufactures, not just multinational corporations. The 21st Century Trade Agreements and Market Access Act would mandate trade pact reviews, establish labor, environmental, and consumer product standards, protect workers in developing nations, and help restore Congressional oversight to future trade agreements. While Russia PNTR represents an incremental revision, our workers and businesses deserve a new more robust American trade policy. We must build on this step to ensure that, over the long term, promises made are promises kept. It's time we practice trade so that it achieves real results for middle-class families and promotes lasting job creation."
As part of its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Russia must commit to lower or remove tariffs on manufactured goods, ensure predictability by capping quota levels and tariff rates for meat and poultry, and meet international standards on intellectual property rights, among other obligations. However, with more than a decade since China joined the WTO and 10 years of PNTR now past--a time period marked by a string of broken trade promises from the Chinese--Brown introduced legislation, the Russian World Trade Organization Commitments Verification Act of 2012, that would tighten enforcement and oversight should Russia be granted PNTR. The legislation extending PNTR to Russia includes several enforcement measures based on Brown's bill, including a requirement that the U.S. Trade Representative monitor Russia's compliance with its WTO obligations, the establishment of an annual report on the United States' actions to promote compliance, and the creation of a formal and public process for business and workers to weigh in on Russia's progress.
Brown is also the author of the 21st Century Trade Agreements and Market Access Act, which would restore Congressional oversight to trade negotiations and ensure that American trading partners play by the same rules as the U.S. While Congress has the constitutional authority to regulate trade and commerce with foreign nations, Congress has at times delegated to the executive branch the authority to select trading partners, negotiate, and sign new trade deals before it votes on the matter. Brown's bill would delegate new authority to the Administration to negotiate new trade deals while re-asserting the role of Congressional oversight into the substance of negotiations.
Brown serves as a member of the President's Export Council and attended a Council meeting today. He is working to advance the National Export Initiative (NEI) and achieve the goal of doubling exports by 2015. Brown also editorialized about his support for Russia PNTR in The Hill.