Today, the President signed into law a bill establishing Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia, bringing to closure years of work spent opening the growing Russian market to American goods and services. The new law represents a victory for American workers and businesses, and will deliver a welcome boost to the U.S. economy at a time when it needs it most.
The enactment of PNTR legislation marks a key step in facilitating U.S. access to the Russian market, while at the same time holding Russia accountable to its commitments with its fellow trading partners in the World Trade Organization (WTO). The law also means that U.S. businesses and workers are given more legal protections, especially in the arena of intellectual property and investor safeguards. The economic benefits are clear, with the President’s Export Council stating that U.S. exports to Russia could double or triple following Russia’s accession to the WTO.
While there is much to celebrate, we hope the President’s signing is only the first step in a renewed effort to promote greater access to foreign markets. In today’s globalized economy, 95 percent of consumers are beyond U.S. borders. We need to push for greater access to emerging markets in the near term. To that end, the U.S. must work with other WTO members to ensure that Russia fulfils its commitment to join the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). Doing so would eliminate tariffs on a wide range of tech products, and facilitate increased economic investments and growth among ITA members.
The President’s signature on the Russia PNTR bill turns the page on what has been a lengthy legislative effort, but it should also serve as the catalyst for a new chapter in U.S. efforts to expand global trade. In this time of festive cheer, good-paying jobs and economic growth top the wish list of every American. It’s now up to our policymakers in Washington to take advantage of the momentum from this important new law and ensure the boost from PNTR is not merely seasonal.