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Mr. PAULSEN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
I'd like to speak in favor of this legislation but also just talk a little bit about why this bill is so important to my home State in Minnesota.
Minnesota's economy has a stake in extending permanent normal trade relations with Russia. Last year, Minnesota exported about $71 million worth of goods to Russia, directly supporting hundreds of jobs for Minnesotans. Now, with the world's ninth-largest economy and a growing middle class, the Russian marketplace holds great future potential for increased exports and more Minnesota jobs.
This August, Russia gained membership to the WTO, giving member economies around the globe increased access to nearly 142 million potential customers. But our failure to pass permanent normal trade relations with Russia means American job creators, American employers can't take advantage of these new opportunities. There are large Minnesota job creators like Cargill, 3M, T&M Marine, TSC Container Freight, and Massman Automation that have all expressed their interest and how important it is that PNTR be extended for increased competition and job growth.
One great example of an industry that will benefit from extending PNTR to Russia is our Nation's medical device innovators. We understand the immense size of the Russian population, but only 20 percent of Russians currently have access to quality health care, and nearly two-thirds of Russia's medical equipment is becoming obsolete. There is an incredible opportunity, Madam Speaker, for U.S. medical technology. And now with its accession to the WTO, Russia has agreed to substantial tariff reductions for imported medical equipment, again, creating a great opportunity for American medical device innovators to increase exports, grow their businesses, and create many new jobs. But unless we pass this legislation, unless we move forward, our competitors will continue to have a distinct and unnecessary advantage.
We need to pass PNTR with Russia not only for countless Minnesota businesses trying to compete and win in today's marketplace, but also, more importantly, for 60,000 Minnesota jobs that are tied to a robust trade agenda.
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