Mr. WALBERG. Mr. Speaker, as the Representative of a district that recorded more than $2 billion in exports last year, I know full well the significance of expanding market access for American companies and ensuring that our businesses are competing on a level playing field. That's why I believe it's important to support passage of H.R. 6156, which will grant permanent normal trade relations to Russia.
This past August, Russia joined the World Trade Organization, giving its members full access to Russia's rapidly growing market, reduced tariffs, and ensured transparency when implementing trade measures. However, while foreign competitors are currently benefiting, the U.S. will not receive any of these benefits until Congress authorizes the President to grant Russia permanent normal trade relations. Simply put, American companies, workers, and farmers are being put at a competitive disadvantage.
Last year, my home State of Michigan exported $225 million worth of goods to Russia, despite many of its
best products facing tough competition from foreign competitors. With this agreement in place, farmers and producers in my district will be assured of more predictable market access for their crops and agricultural goods, while manufacturers will enjoy reduced tariff rates for Michigan-made vehicles and equipment.
As a World Trade Organization member, Russia has agreed to comply with the rule of law. Though these reforms won't happen overnight, Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization requires their compliance with all of the organization's rules and duties. This includes addressing discriminatory practices, enforcing intellectual property rights, and increasing transparency. If it does not comply, members can enforce them through dispute mechanisms.
Of further importance, this legislation includes critical human rights provisions which will hold foreign officials accountable for gross human rights abuses and prevent them from entering the U.S. or accessing our financial systems.
House Republicans have worked tirelessly during the 112th Congress to advance pro-growth legislation which provides greater certainty for American companies and helps our Nation's businesses hire more American workers. We've made great gains in advancing trade interests for the U.S. and promoting new market opportunities for our companies.
An ambitious trade agenda must continue for us to successfully lower the unemployment rate and restore our place as the global economic leader, and I'm glad we have the opportunity to pass another part of that plan today. If we're going to jump-start our economy and get Americans back to work, we have to find ways to increase global market access for American companies and to advance economic freedom.
I encourage my colleagues to support this legislation today.