Congress has departed Washington for its August recess having failed to pass legislation to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia and missing an immediate opportunity to support the U.S. economy and jobs. The inaction is disappointing, especially since Russia will formally join the World Trade Organization (WTO) on August 22, and without PNTR, the United States will not enjoy the same benefits as all other WTO countries. The result? A competitive disadvantage.
Still, Congress can aid U.S. companies and workers by moving swiftly to pass the PNTR legislation after lawmakers reconvene on September 10. Congressional backing for PNTR is strong and bipartisan. The Senate Finance Committee passed PNTR on a unanimous vote in mid-July, and the House Ways & Means Committee's voice vote was overwhelmingly in support. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk has expressed the Obama Administration's backing for PNTR as a top trade priority.
Governors from both political parties have also written Congress urging quick passage of PNTR. You can see from this map how editorialists and other columnists from around the country have made the powerful economic case for PNTR. And a national poll conducted in May reported that 70 percent of those surveyed backed Congress changing the laws to allow the United States to export more to Russia.
BRT believes the momentum is there to pass this PNTR, and we'll be continuing our advocacy and grassroots campaign, urging Congressional leaders and the White House to work together to complete the legislation in September. Quick passage of this legislation is needed to ensure U.S. companies and workers do not lose out to their foreign competitors in the Russian marketplace, but instead have the same WTO rights and economic opportunities as those foreign competitors. In other words, PNTR is not for Russia, it’s for the United States.
To learn more about BRT's top trade priority this year, including to see the importance of PNTR to growing exports from each U.S. state to Russia, visit www.brt.org/Russia.
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