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Public Statements

Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

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Mr. LEVIN. I now yield 9 minutes to the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Michaud) for a colloquy, a gentleman who has worked so hard on trade issues.

Mr. MICHAUD. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Representative DeLauro of Connecticut and I introduced legislation to increase the specifics and the strength of U.S. enforcement efforts of Russia's WTO membership. As our experience with China has shown, if there isn't a robust enforcement mechanism, American jobs will be lost.

I am pleased that the bill being debated today includes similar language to strengthen our enforcement of Russia's WTO membership, but I do have lingering concerns that USTR may be reluctant to fully implement these provisions, both in letter and in spirit.

First, I am worried that USTR may not interpret the bill's reporting requirements in a way that will make it possible for Members of Congress or American businesses to fully understand Russia's WTO commitment. The Working Party Report, alone, is hundreds of pages and is hard to decipher. In addition, I'm concerned that USTR may not include in their report when they decide not to take action against Russia, even when they are not in compliance.

Can you assure me that you will work with me to ensure that Members of Congress and our businesses are made aware of all of Russia's WTO commitments and whether or not they are in full compliance?

I yield to the gentleman.

Mr. LEVIN. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

I very much agree with my colleague from Maine that it's vital to monitor and fully enforce our trade agreements, and I will work with USTR to keep you and other Members of Congress informed when Russia has not fulfilled its commitment, regardless of whether or not the administration has taken formal notice.

Mr. MICHAUD. I thank the gentleman for his answer.

My next concern is that USTR's report that Congress may not give sufficient attention to Russia's compliance with their manufacturing-related commitments. I know you and I share a deep commitment to American manufacturing. Will my friend work with me to ensure that USTR reports to Congress include assessments on their compliance with manufacturing-related obligations?

Mr. LEVIN. As my colleague knows, today's legislation includes reporting requirements on all of Russia's commitments they made prior to joining the WTO, including the reduction of tariffs and other commitments related to manufacturing sectors. I will work with my colleague to make certain that USTR's reports include an evaluation of Russia's manufacturing-related commitments.

Mr. MICHAUD. I thank my friend for his response. And I know it will come as no surprise that I have approached this legislation and debate with skepticism. Since China joined the WTO more than 10 years ago, nearly 2 million U.S. jobs have been shipped overseas. Although I have advocated for and supported U.S. enforcement efforts at the WTO, these actions have not been enough to counter China's persistent trade violation, including their currency manipulation. I do not want us to repeat this mistake with Russia.

I think the enforcement provisions in this legislation are a good start, but it will take a proactive Congress to make sure our businesses benefit from this agreement. Can my friend assure me that he will work with me to use all the tools at our disposal, including section 301 authority, if needed, to make sure that Russia lives up to the WTO commitment?

Mr. LEVIN. I very much agree with you that we must enforce our trading partners' commitments so that our American workers can compete on a level playing field, and I really believe that Mr. Camp, our chairman, and others concur in that. I, too, have been concerned about the effect China's trade relations have had on the U.S. economy.

I will work with you to monitor Russia's compliance and to ensure that U.S. manufacturers get the full benefits of Russia's WTO membership, and I can assure you we will continue to work together to address China's violations as well. This administration has been active in that regard.

As for section 301, I wish to note that I and the ranking member on our Trade Subcommittee, Mr. McDermott, exchanged letters with the U.S. trade rep in July, confirming our rights to request action under section 301. Under section 301, USTR is required to respond to our requests within a fixed timeline. That exchange of letters has already been incorporated into the legislative history of the bill before us today.

Mr. MICHAUD. I appreciate the gentleman's comment, and I look forward to working with him on these issues. You and I have worked closely together on trade enforcement over the past few years, and I sincerely hope this effort between our offices will further strengthen our dialogue and collaboration on trade policy going forward. It will be even more important that we work together to make sure that TPP is a good deal for American workers and that its implementation legislation as well, should it ever reach the floor, include strict enforcement measures.

This legislation represents an unprecedented step towards improving enforcement of our trade agreements. I want to thank you for working with us to improve this legislation and for agreeing to work with me on my outstanding concerns that we currently have. As a result of these improvements and the strong human rights language in the bill, I'll be supporting this legislation when the House votes on it today. And I want to thank the gentleman from Michigan very much for his efforts in that regard.

Mr. LEVIN. I want to thank you, Mr. Michaud, for your arduous efforts.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. LEVIN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.

I wanted Mr. Curson to finish his statement because of his roots in the labor movement and beyond. We're proud to have you here, and we welcome your statement.

As I close, I want to congratulate everybody who worked on this to try to strengthen it. I also want to say just a word about Jackson-Vanik because this terminates that provision that was a part of the trade bill.

I want to salute everybody over the years who worked to implement what Senator Jackson and Congressman Vanik undertook. Many of us, my late wife and myself, and so many others went to Russia to try to make real that amendment. It showed that trade is more than the flow of goods. We have to look at the structure within which trade operates.

So I close again by attributing so much to people who worked so hard to try to make sure that those who wanted to leave Russia, the Jewish community and beyond, had a chance to live elsewhere and to pursue their lives with dignity.

This is an important moment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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