For the first time, the APEC CEO Summit will be held in Russia this year, Vladivostock to be exact, and Business Roundtable-member CEOs will be on hand. In drawing attention to Russia's prominence in the global economy right before Congress returns for its September session, the three-day summit (Sept. 6-8) will reinforce the importance of passing legislation to grant Russia Permanent Normal Trade Relations status.
The APEC CEO Summit is being held in conjunction with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders Week. According to the the official news release the summit will draw "close to 700 attendees from more than 535 companies and business organizations from the Asia-Pacific region": "
The program, built around the theme of"Addressing Challenges. Expanding Possibilities" will be devoted to an exchange of ideas between business and government leaders on the issues most relevant today in the Asia-Pacific region including economic integration, trade liberalization innovation for growth, food security, energy and the development of distant provinces.
The government leaders include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who departs on a multi-nation trip today . Russian President President Vladimir Putin of Russia will host the sessions, also attended by Presidents of China, Chile, Indonesia and Vietman, Prime Minster John Key of New Zealand, and the chief executive of Hong Kong.
Prominent among the many business leaders scheduled to attend are the BRT-member CEOs: Samuel Allen, Chairman of the Board, Deere & Company; John Faraci, Chairman & CEO, International Paper; and James Turley, Chairman & CEO, Ernst & Young Global.
Allen testified in March for Deere and the BRT before the Senate Finance Committee on the implications for the United States of Russia's accession to the WTO (which occurred Aug. 22). As he said in his prepared statement, Congress must pass legislation granting PNTR status to Russia if U.S. companies are to take full advantage of the trade liberalization that occurs with WTO membership.
PNTR with Russia is, simply put, a benefit to the United States rather than an accommodation to Russia. Here is a concrete example. Russia has committed upon accession to significantly reduce its tariffs on imported agriculture equipment – from 15% to 5%. However, it is possible that Russia would withhold the lower, WTO-negotiated tariff rates from our U.S.-made products until the United States granted Russia PNTR status. That would place U.S. companies like John Deere at a competitive disadvantage relative to our foreign competitors, and with no recourse when disputes arise. And that would negatively impact our U.S. operations because the products we sell in Russia are closely connected to jobs in our facilities in the American Midwest.
House leadership has indicated it may schedule a vote on PNTR the week of Sept. 10. The propitiously scheduled meetings in Vladivostok of business and government leaders drive home the point: It's time for Congress to act on PNTR to support U.S. growth and jobs.
For more information on Russia PNTR go to www.brt.org/russia.
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