Russia Joins WTO Tomorrow and Market Barriers Fall – But Only America’s Economic Competitors Will Fully Benefit for Now

Washington – Russia, the world’s ninth-largest economy, tomorrow joins the World Trade Organization (WTO) – lowering its tariffs and implementing numerous other market-opening reforms in the process. Because Congress has not approved permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia, U.S. companies, farmers and workers are now at a competitive disadvantage to foreign competitors for new sales and other economic opportunities in the growing Russian marketplace.

“The United States simply cannot afford to bypass this immediate opportunity to support the U.S. economy and American jobs,” said BRT President John Engler. “We commend House leaders for planning to move Russia PNTR legislation in September. We believe there is strong bipartisan support and momentum to pass this legislation, and we urge Congressional leaders and the White House to work together to get it done in September. Any further delay will only hurt American exporters and their workers, as America’s major competitors in Europe and Asia move to sign contracts and make deals that could disadvantage U.S. companies for months or years to come.”

Russia PNTR received unanimous support by the Senate Finance Committee and near-unanimous support by the House Ways & Means Committee, and is supported by the Administration. Yet Congress left for the August recess without voting on the legislation.

Business Roundtable has made approval of Russia PNTR a top priority for 2012. Among its many advocacy and grassroots activities throughout the year, BRT has done the following:

• State Fact Sheets: Detail the economic importance of PNTR for every state. Distributed state data to Congressional offices and to media and state and local business leaders across the country.
• New Web Resources: Features an interactive U.S. map, ways to contact Congressional offices and numerous other resources.
• Outreach to Governors: Letters from Engler to all 50 state governors encouraging support for PNTR.
• Advertising: Inside the Beltway print ad campaign. Ad here and here.
• Polling: Public opinion polling shows 70 percent of Americans support Congressional action to increase U.S. exports to Russia.
• Op-Ed Campaign: Placed dozens of Op-eds by Doug Oberhelman, Chairman & CEO of Caterpillar Inc., and chair of BRT’s International Engagement Committee, and by other state and local leaders in publications throughout the country.

With limited time remaining on the Congressional calendar for 2012, BRT urges Congress to move quickly to approve Russia PNTR in September. To learn more, visit www.brt.org/Russia.
 

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