House approves Russia trade normalizing bill

Published on: Dec 17, 2012

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 6156, the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012, in a bipartisan vote, 365-43. This bill ensures that U.S. agricultural producers can benefit from Russia's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) by establishing permanent normal trade relations (PNTR).

As a condition of joining the WTO, both countries have agreed to reduce their trade barriers, enforce intellectual property rights, and abide by international trade mediation. By officially removing an outdated legal barrier, H.R. 6156 will allow the United States to begin taking advantage of increased trade and export opportunities in Russia and Moldova. The legislation also contains provisions intended to address human rights concerns in Russia due to the death of whistleblower Sergei Maginsky in 2009.

The action now sets up approval in the Senate, where the Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved the measure earlier this year.

House Agriculture Committee chairman Frank Lucas, (R., Okla.) said he is pleased that the two countries will finally be trading on a level play field after years of U.S. exporters facing "arbitrary and unpredictable market barriers in the Russian market."

Lucas added that U.S. agricultural exports to Russia exceeded $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2012 and the action will provide additional value and increased access into a growing market through lower tariffs and more certain trade rules.

In a statement from Rep. Steve King (R., Iowa), he said exports to Russia could double or triple within five years as it reduces its tariffs and trade barriers on goods and services.