US trade with Russia: Time to come in from the cold

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Russia’s entry into the rules-based global trading system adds predictability to the U.S.-Russia commercial relationship, protects intellectual property, discourages Russia from taking protectionist measures and provides a framework for resolving disputes in a fair and transparent way.

Some critics argue that PNTR provides the U.S. with leverage to influence Russia’s behavior outside the economic space. The U.S. is not giving trade preferences to Russia and the Jackson-Vanik provision only prevents our companies from taking full advantage of its market-opening commitments. Yes, corruption is still pervasive and human rights violations occur. Russia’s foreign policy agenda is sometimes at odds with the U.S. and our allies, including its ongoing support of the current Syrian regime. While Russia’s democratic system is far from perfect, there are critical issues on which our two countries have and mustcontinue to work on together, including combating nuclear proliferation andterrorism. We must not fail to recognize that. I am impressed and encouraged by the progress that has been made and I believe that further integration into the global trading system will help keep Russia moving in the right direction. The U.S. will be more influential as an economic partner than if we allow the barrier of Jackson-Vanik to remain in place.

The Russian people are better off than they were 30 years ago when I first visited the Soviet Union. And so are we because of the dramatic change in the relationship of our two nations. There is no doubt that Russia’s entry into the global trading system with its rules-based framework for resolving trade disputes will lead to more trade and investment that will further contribute to the pace of positive change.

P&G was privileged to play a role in the early days of Russia’s economic formation. Now it’s time to create the conditions for more American companies and workers to take part in Russia’s growth. Congress needs to act swiftly to repeal Jackson-Vanik and extend PNTR before our foreign competitors seize an irreversible advantage.

Pepper is former chairman, president and CEO of Procter & Gamble. He oversaw P&G’s entry into Russia in 1991 and recently published “Russian Tide: Building a Leadership Business in the Midst of Unprecedented Change”.