Posts Tagged ‘sandy levin’

July 2012

Committee Markup: Russia’s WTO Accession and Granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations

Congressman Sandy Levin

Opening Statement of Ranking Member Sander Levin

Committee Markup: Russia’s WTO Accession and Granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations

(Remarks as Prepared)

Since our hearing on this issue in June action within the control of Congress has improved. Those of us who have been pressing for a bill that seeks to strengthen enforcement are pleased that our efforts came to fruition in the bipartisan outcome of the Senate Finance Committee’s markup last week.

Action within the control of Russia – most directly that related to Syria – has unfortunately not changed enough.

As we know, failing to grant PNTR does not prevent Russia from joining the WTO. They are scheduled to do so on Aug. 22 and our government has agreed to their accession agreement. Failing to act only prevents U.S. companies, workers, and farmers from gaining the benefits of Russia’s WTO membership.

There are serious outstanding trade issues we have with Russia – ranging from IPR enforcement to the rule of law. Russia’s WTO membership will help us to make progress on some of these issues. At the same time, Russia’s accession will not, by itself, fully solve these problems. We will need to continue to work actively to address these issues at every opportunity.

For example, without PNTR, if Russia would decide to massively subsidize a key industry, and those subsidies harm U.S. exporters, there is nothing we can do about it today. But with PNTR, we would be able to challenge those subsidies and either remove them or face WTO-sanctioned retaliation by the United States.

The bill before us today is much improved on enforcement. Among other things, it requires the Administration to report on Russia’s implementation of all of its WTO commitments and to describe the Administration’s plan to address any deficiencies. It establishes a new mechanism to gather and report information on bribery and corruption in Russia. And it requires the Administration to negotiate new agreements to address longstanding issues with IPR enforcement and barriers to U.S. agricultural exporters.

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