Hatch Statement on Finance Committee Markup of Russia PNTR Legislation
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, praised changes agreed to by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) to legislation granting Russia permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) that address Hatch’s concerns about Russian barriers to U.S. exports, corruption and its commitment to the rule of law. The Finance Committee is set to mark up this legislation next Wednesday, July 18th.
“Opening markets through free trade is critical to job creation, economic growth and the spread of the rule of law. At the same time, America’s relationship with Russia is complex, demanding both carrots and sticks to ensure Russia is a reliable international partner. With this legislation, we have achieved that critical balance,” said Hatch. “I appreciate Chairman Baucus’ leadership and for agreeing to further strengthen this legislation. Together, we’ve produced a consensus bill that will allow American job-creators, workers, farmers and ranchers to take full advantage of Russia’s entrance into the World Trade Organization, while effectively addressing my concerns with Russian barriers to U.S. exports, corruption, and poor support of the rule of law. Not only is this how PNTR for Russia will succeed, but more importantly it is the right thing to do. Before I could lend my support to this legislation, these issues had to have been adequately addressed; I believe this modified legislation does that. It is my hope that we can continue this spirit of bipartisanship and ensure swift passage through Congress.”
During Finance Committee hearings on PNTR for Russia, Hatch expressed a number of concerns with both the Russian Government and the Obama Administration’s Russia policy, including concerns regarding Russia’s compliance with its international agreements, poor respect for the rule of law, rampant corruption in Russia, and the Administration’s willingness to hold the Russian Government accountable for violations of its World Trade Organization (WTO) obligations.
The Senate Finance Committee will meet on Wednesday, July 18 at 9:30 a.m. to markup bipartisan legislation to remove Russia from the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and grant Russia Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR). Under Jackson-Vanik specified countries, like Russia, are denied trade relations with the United States unless the country fulfilled certain freedom-of-emigration requirements, or received a Presidential wavier. On December 16, 2011 Russia was invited to join the WTO. The Russian parliament must approve the conditions for accession by July 23, 2012, to complete the accession process. Russia would formally become a member 30 days later. In order for U.S. job creators, workers, farmers and ranchers to fully benefit from Russia’s accession to the WTO, including use of WTO dispute settlement mechanisms, the U.S. Congress must remove Russia from the Jackson-Vanik amendment and grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations to Russia.
Hatch worked with Chairman Baucus to strengthen the bill by including provisions that:
Open new markets for U.S. exporters by ensuring they enjoy the full benefits of Russia joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) by authorizing the President to determine that Title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 should no longer apply to the Russian Federation and to extend National Trade Relations treatment to Russian products by proclamation.
Provide new tools to help protect U.S. farmers and innovators by requiring the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to report to Congress annually on Russia’s implementation of its WTO sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) obligations and WTO intellectual property rights obligations.
Press the Administration to achieve additional market access for U.S. businesses and holds Russia accountable by requiring USTR to report annually on Russia’s progress in joining the WTO’s Information and Technology Agreement and WTO Agreement on Government Procurement.
Require the USTR to develop a plan for action to address areas where Russia does not live up to its WTO accession commitment.
Empower U.S. citizens and businesses to provide comments or attend a public hearing regarding Russia’s adherence to its WTO commitments.
Create new tools to ensure that Russia lives up to its WTO commitments and protects U.S. economic interests by requiring the USTR to report to Congress within 6 months of enactment of the legislation, and annually thereafter on USTR’s enforcement actions to ensure Russia’s full compliance with its WTO obligations.
Advance rule of law and anti-corruption efforts in Russia by requiring the USTR and the Secretary of State to report to Congress annually of efforts to promote the rule of law in Russia and to support U.S. trade and investment; Including the negotiation of a bilateral investment treaty, advocating for U.S. investors in the Russian federation, encouraging the Russian Federation and all parties to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention to fully implement their Convention commitments, cooperative efforts to expand the capacity of civil society organizations to monitor, investigate, and report on suspected instances of corruption.
Aid U.S. business, especially small business, to battle corruption in Russia by requiring the Secretary of Commerce to dedicate a phone hotline and secure website accessible within the United States and Russia to allow U.S. citizens and businesses to report on corruption, bribery and attempted bribery in Russia and to request the assistance of the U.S. Government.
Hold Russia accountable for censorship and other barriers that discriminate against U.S. digital trade by requiring the USTR to report on the laws, policies or practices of the Russian Federation that deny fair and equitable treatment to U.S. digital trade.
Require the USTR to pursue reduction of Russian barriers to U.S. exports through efforts to negotiate a bilateral SPS equivalency agreement with Russia and negotiate an intellectual property rights action plan that goes beyond the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Open new markets for U.S. exporters by ensuring they enjoy the full benefits of Moldova joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) by authorizing the President to determine that Title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 should no longer apply to Moldova and to extend National Trade Relations treatment to Moldovan products by proclamation.