U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and former United States Trade Representative (USTR), today released the following statement following passage of Russia Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) in the Senate:
"This Russian trade bill creates American jobs by expanding exports. At a time of stubbornly high unemployment and weak economic growth, we need to do all we can to access growing markets overseas to create jobs here at home. We want our workers, farmers, and businesses to be able to sell more to the 95 percent of the world's consumers who live beyond our borders. In order for businesses to expand and create jobs, however, they need to know that they will have certainty and predictability in the global marketplace. Even more, they need to know that if their competitors break the rules, U.S. job creators have the authority to hold them accountable.
"Russia is the world's ninth largest economy and is eager for American products, but currently U.S. companies only account for 5 percent of Russia's imports. As part of Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Republican and Democratic Administrations spent the past two decades, including when I was USTR, making sure that Russia promised to play by the rules and would face legal consequences if it failed to do so. Without the enactment of this new Russian trade bill, these trade rules are guaranteed for America's competitors, but not us. By implementing normal trade relations with Russia, American exporters will receive these benefits with total certainty.
"This bill will not fix everything in our relationship with Russia. I have strong concerns about Russia's involvement in the continuing Syrian conflict and have watched with alarm as Russia used its veto power to prevent the imposition of tough sanctions on the Assad regime while arming his dictatorship with weapons used to terrorize Syrian citizens. This bill does not condone these actions and is certainly not a gift for Russia. On the contrary, this bill has teeth and brings Russia into a rules-based trading system."