December 06,2012

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Floor Statement of Senator Max Baucus in Advance of the Senate Vote on Establishing Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia

As prepared for delivery

We will soon be voting on whether to establish permanent normal trade relations, or PNTR, with Russia and Moldova, and to update Russian human rights legislation. 

We have to take many difficult votes in this chamber, but this is not one of them.  In fact, this is a rare opportunity to pass a good bill that we can all agree is good.

PNTR is good for U.S. jobs.  Russia is a fast-growing market.  When Russia joined the WTO in August, it opened its markets to the other 155 members of the WTO who have PNTR with Russia.  PNTR will give U.S. farmers, ranchers, businesses and workers new opportunities in Russia and new jobs here at home. 

Our competitors in China, Canada and Europe are now taking advantage of these opportunities, because they have PNTR with Russia.  We are the only WTO member missing out on these opportunities.

If we now pass PNTR, we can level the playing field and compete.  If we can compete, we will win.  We will sell more beef.  We will sell more aircraft.  We will sell more tractors.  We will sell more medical equipment.  And our banks and insurance companies will grow. 

PNTR will give our knowledge industries greater protections for their intellectual property, and our farmers will have new tools to fight unscientific trade barriers.

If we pass PNTR, American exports to Russia are expected to double in five years.

This bill has strong enforcement provisions, to help ensure that American farmers, ranchers, businesses and exporters get the full benefit of PNTR.

And this bill has strong human rights provisions.  Senator Cardin’s Magnitsky Act punishes human rights violations in Russia and helps to address the corruption problems Russia now faces.

In July, the Finance Committee voted unanimously, 24-0, in favor of PNTR legislation.  Last month, the House of Representatives passed the PNTR legislation now before us with 365 yes votes. 

Now we need to act to pass this bill that supports U.S. jobs.  Let’s take advantage of the opportunity before us to take a good vote on a good bill.  I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of giving U.S. workers and businesses a chance to compete.  Vote in favor of PNTR.