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American Shipper

House lauded for addressing Russia favored status

   The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) on Monday lauded applauded Congress leadership for scheduling a vote on legislation establishing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia in the U.S. House.
   Russia gained admission to the WTO in August, but it continues to be precluded from PNTR status due to U.S. human rights legislation from the 1970s – part of a 1974 provision called the Jackson-Vanik amendment, dating back to when the then Soviet government hindered emigration from Jewish citizens by applying a so-called “diploma tax” on those trying to leave after having received state-funded higher education.
   Russia has not imposed those restrictions for the last two decades, around the time it began applying for WTO membership. The last three U.S. presidents have urged Congress to repeal the amendment, but Capitol Hill lawmakers have not been swayed, citing Russia’s continued human rights violations against political dissenters, as well as its divergence from Western efforts to crack down on Iran, Syria, and other rogue governments.
   Granting most-favored nation status to Russia would provide relief from some tariffs on U.S. exports to the country, opening up markets for manufacturers, service providers, and farmers.
   “We welcome the news and commend House leadership for working together to bring Russia PNTR legislation to the floor this week,” said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. “With Russia’s accession to the WTO over two months ago, U.S. companies, exporters and workers are at a competitive disadvantage in the growing Russian market and cannot afford further delay. Approval of PNTR will help to increase U.S. exports, grow the economy and support American job creation.”
   Congress failed to vote on granting PNTR status to Russia during a short session in September before lawmakers adjourned to head home and campaign for the November election.
   “To ensure that U.S. companies, exporters and workers will benefit from Russia’s WTO membership, we urge members of the House to vote in favor of PNTR,” said NFTC Vice President Dan O’Flaherty. “And we urge the Senate to schedule a vote and approve the legislation as soon as possible before adjourning for the year.” – Eric Johnson