The two chambers of the U.S. Congress have until the end of the week to smooth out the wrinkles in two competing plans to establish permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia. Failure to do so could put billions of dollars worth of American exports at risk when Russia joins the World Trade Organization (WTO) later this month, on August 22.
Congress adjourns for its five-week August recess after the close August 3, meaning that a bill has to be enacted by then if the United States is to have any hope of taking full advantage of Russia's WTO membership right from the jump. Under WTO rules, should the U.S. not have established PNTR with Russia by the time they officially join the global trade body, Russia can increase tariffs on U.S. goods entering the country, ultimately giving goods from other countries going into Russia a competitive advantage over their American counterparts.
Standing in the way of PNTR is the Jackson-Vanik amendment, a Cold War regulation that is regularly suspended as a matter of course. But its presence on U.S. books gives Russia the right to deny U.S. companies access to the markets it will open as part of its WTO accession agreement.
- Jacob Barron, CICP, NACM staff writer
(Note: More in this week's edition of eNews, available late Thursday afternoons at www.nacm.org).