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Trade relations with Russia will be a boost to the U.S.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov is on record saying that he anticipates the accession agreement being sent to the Duma in May.
{mosads}In Russia, retail food and beverage sales are forecast to increase in real terms from just over $200 billion in 2010 to more than $240 billion by 2014—a 20 percent increase. This is good news for U.S. food exporters as imports are expected to meet some of this growing consumer demand. But while Russia is home to 142 million consumers and maintains the world’s eleventh largest economy, it is the largest economy not yet formally subject to the global trading rules of the WTO.
For U.S. companies to benefit from Russia’s accession, it will be necessary for Congress to permanently remove Russia from the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974 and authorize the president to extend PNTR to Russia. Jackson-Vanik requires Russia and seven other former Soviet states and non-market economies to comply with free emigration policies before enjoying normal trade relations with the United States. Since 1994, the United States has certified annually that Russia complies with the amendment’s provisions and has conferred normal trade relations (NTR) status.
Russia at times in the past has used arbitrary sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) actions that lack scientific justification to limit or even halt poultry and meat imports from the United States. Without the ability to use WTO’s dispute settlement procedures and other related mechanisms, the United States will be at a very significant disadvantage if Russia chooses to evoke bogus SPS measures against U.S. poultry. As a member of the WTO, Russia is obligated to bind its agricultural import tariffs and tariff-rate quotas (TRQs). But, if Russia misuses SPS provisions, the tariff bindings and TRQs will become a secondary concern. Other world poultry competitors will undoubtedly step up and try to replace the United States if the Russian market is disrupted for U.S. poultry exports.
USTR notes that U.S. farmers and exporters will have more certain and predictable market access as a result of Russia’s commitment not to raise tariffs on any products above the negotiated rates and to apply non-tariff measures in a uniform and transparent manner.
The National Chicken Council urges Congress to approve PNTR for Russia by mid-2012 to help assure the United States can continue to compete in the Russian poultry market. Exporting $300 million of poultry to Russia annually will provide better incomes for more U.S. workers and additional poultry to be produced by a growing number of family farmers across America.
The chicken industry is certainly not the only beneficiary of granting Russia PNTR, as there is significant commercial opportunities for other U.S. exporters, including those businesses in the fruit, livestock, agriculture equipment, aerospace, consumer goods, high tech instruments, construction equipment, textiles and medical equipment sectors, among others.
Congress will not be voting on Russia’s WTO accession, rather it will be voting on giving the United States equal accession to general tariff reductions, market opening measures and the ability of U.S. interests, such as poultry, to seek trade relief, if necessary, through the WTO.
A vote for Russia PNTR is a vote for U.S. job creation and economic growth. It makes no sense for the United States to lose access to the world’s eleventh largest economy over an outdated law.

Brown is the president of the National Chicken Council.


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