U.S. Senator John Boozman today hailed the Senate passage of legislation that removes four-decade's worth of trade restrictions that prevent Arkansas businesses from being able to maximize the Russian market.
"Arkansas's economy stands to really benefit from tearing down these artificial trade barriers. Last year, Arkansas exported $56 million worth of goods to Russia. The more we can increase trade abroad, the more opportunities we have to add jobs here at home," Boozman said.
Earlier this year, Russia formally entered the World Trade Organization (WTO). In order to be accepted into the organization, Russia agreed to lower its import tariffs, strengthen intellectual property protections, and resolve problems through a rules-based dispute resolution system. The Russia Trade Bill makes normal trade relations permanent between the U.S. and Russia, allowing U.S. companies to take advantage of the new trade rules that the WTO's other 155 members enjoy. The bill--which also includes important human rights provisions that would deny visas and freeze the financial assets of Russian officials thought to be involved in human rights violations--overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives last month and now goes to President Obama for his signature.
"This bill is a job creator and the President needs to sign it right away. Each day that we wait to increase engagement in the Russian market, other nations increase their foothold. Passage of this bill helps even that playing field in today's competitive global market. That's going to result in jobs here at home," Boozman said.
Normalizing trade relations with Russia will create additional economic opportunities for Arkansas manufacturers, farmers and ranchers. Trade with Russia has created positive benefits for Arkansas's machinery, aerospace and poultry sectors which combined makeup 86 percent of our state's exports to Russia.
"Arkansas companies have showed they can successfully compete in the Russian market. We have a chance to make further inroads in a growing market of 140 million consumers through passage of this bill. A growing market equals more jobs in Arkansas," Boozman said.