Baucus Welcomes Preliminary Russia Trade Agreement, Says Additional Steps Are Necessary For WTO Accession
Senator Praises Agriculture Commitments But Has Deep Concerns about Intellectual Property
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ranking Democrat on theSenate Finance Committee, commented today on an announcement that the United Statesand Russia have reached an agreement in principle on Russia’s accession to the WorldTrade Organization (WTO).
“Russia’s WTO membership on commercially meaningful terms is an importantgoal,” said Baucus. “Today’s agreement is a first step in that direction. I welcomethe announcement that the United States and Russia have resolved longstandingconcerns in the agriculture sector. As I have told Ambassador Schwab, anyagreement with Russia must lead to a lifting of Russia's unscientific ban on U.S.beef.”
“At the same time, Russia must take additional steps to earn a welcome into the WTO,” continued Baucus. “Russia maintains unacceptable levels of piracy andcounterfeiting, and these must be addressed before Congress can endorse Russia’sWTO membership and grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations status. I lookforward to working with Ambassador Schwab on achieving measurable results.”
The U.S.-Russia bilateral agreement focuses on market access for U.S. goods andservices. Russia has also agreed to abide by international scientific standards inagriculture trade, including U.S. beef exports. Completing the bilateral agreement is animportant milestone, but there is further work to do in the multilateral talks. BeforeRussia joins the WTO, that nation must pledge to all WTO members to abide by WTOrules, including those regarding the protection and enforcement of intellectual propertyrights.
Russia is currently ineligible for Permanent Normal Trade Relations (“PNTR”) because itis subject to the Jackson-Vanik provisions of U.S. law, which withhold PNTR fromcertain Communist or formerly Communist countries. The United States typicallyterminates a country’s Jackson-Vanik status and grants that country PNTR as part of itsaccession to the WTO.
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