I want to welcome all of you to the markup of the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012. With unemployment stuck above eight percent, we cannot miss any opportunity to help create jobs and expand our exports. This bill is such an opportunity.
That is why this legislation enjoys such broad bipartisan support. I am pleased that Ranking Members Levin and McDermott, as well as other Members of the Committee, joined Chairman Brady and myself in sponsoring this bill. This bipartisan support was on full view last week when the Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed the identical bill, save for one provision that falls outside of our jurisdiction – the Magnitsky bill, which I expect to be added at Rules.
There is no question that Russia will join the WTO on August 22. The economic benefits of Russia’s new membership in the WTO are also clear: greater opportunities for U.S. employers, farmers, and ranchers to sell American goods and services to Russia because Russia has to lower its barriers to join.
To obtain the benefits of the concessions that Russia made to join the WTO, we must pass this bill and grant Russia PNTR. Otherwise, all of these benefits will go to our foreign competitors. We give up nothing with this legislation – not a single U.S. tariff – but we would obtain a powerful new enforcement tool and important rights with respect to the sixth largest economy in the world.
I recognize the challenges of our relationship with Russia. We have significant long-standing bilateral commercial issues relating to enforcement and protection of intellectual property rights and the application of certain sanitary and phytosanitary requirements to our agriculture products. Many of these issues should be resolved as Russia adopts WTO’s rules. However, there are concerns over whether Russia will live up to its WTO obligations and its willingness to resolve those issues that fall outside of the WTO.
This bill addresses these concerns by making sure that the Administration stays on top of Russia’s compliance with its WTO commitments, tackling our longstanding trade issues with Russia, and addressing the lack of the rule of law in Russia.
Many Members are also concerned with the significant problems that Russia poses relating to foreign policy and human rights. I share these concerns, and that is why I support adding the Magnitsky legislation to this bill before it is considered by the House.
Finally, this legislation grants PNTR to Moldova. Moldova acceded to the WTO in 2001, so this step is long overdue.