Published: June 12, 2012
A new public opinion survey today released as Business Roundtable kicked off a "50 Days for Trade" campaign showed broad public support for expanding trade with Russia.
BRT President John Engler cited the survey of 1,000 registered voters conducted May 26-27 by The Winston Group during a 55-minute briefing with trade reporters. The issue that prompts BRT's campaign, Congressional approval of Permanent Normal Trade Relations for Russia, is probably not high in the public's consciousness, but the responses still show an appreciation for the benefits of trade with Russia. To wit:
The results seem a little counterintuitive. Trade (trade agreements) took a political beating in the 2008 and 2010 elections, and the Russian government is making it difficult to talk about closer ties of any kind.
But the case for Russia PNTR is one about benefits to the United States, U.S. companies and employees. Russia will accede to the World Trade Organization this summer, further opening a country of 140 million people and the ninth-largest economy in the world to WTO-member countries...
Except for the United States if Congress does not act on PNTR. Inaction would leave the 1974 Jackson-Vanick amendment in place, the law that used trade to pressure Russia to allow Jewish emigration. WTO rules requiring its members to treat each other equally would then preclude the U.S. companies from taking advantage of such things as lower tariffs.
BRT's new website, www.brt.org/russia, provides a wealth of materials that make the powerful economic case for Congressional approval of PNTR for Russia. Every state stands to benefit, as our state data sheets document. There's a "Take Action" page that allows the public to contact members of Congress.
The need for action is pressing. BRT's campaign urges Congress to enact PNTR by August to allow the United States to move quickly once Russia accedes to the WTO. As BRT President John Engler told reporters:
We're all aware of all the problems that are playing out in Europe. You can imagine with the economy at or near recession in Europe, how hungry some of these European companies are going to be to get at the Russian market. On day one, they're off like a shot. You don't want to be showing up six months later and saying, hey, we're here! Well, where were you six months ago when the Italians, the Spanish, the Germans, and the British all showed up?
Things are moving on Capitol Hill. Today, four Senators -- two from each party -- announced their PNTR bill. BRT says thank you.