The US Should Establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia

Policy Brief
November 2011

The potential benefits to the US economy from Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) are substantial, but the United States can enjoy them only if it grants Russia permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status—by repealing application to Russia of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. While congressional approval is not necessary for completion of Russian accession to the WTO, Congress needs to grant Russia PNTR to make it possible for US companies to take full advantage of the best available conditions of access to the Russian market for both trade and investment.

Åslund and Hufbauer calculate that US exports to Russia could double over the next five years—from $9 billion in 2010 to $19 billion—adding jobs in the services, agriculture, manufacturing, and high-tech sectors. More generally, with Russia's accession to the WTO and the United States granting PNTR to Russia, US-Russia commercial relations will be set on a sounder and friendlier footing, facilitating cooperation on national security and political issues. By strengthening the rules-based global trading system, WTO accession and PNTR will discourage Russia from undertaking protectionist measures.

President Barack Obama has stated that he looks forward to working with Congress "to end the application of the Jackson-Vanik amendment to Russia in order to ensure that American firms and American exporters will enjoy the same benefits of Russian WTO membership as their international competitors." It is imperative that Congress respond constructively in the same spirit of bipartisanship that led to the successful approval earlier this year of the Colombia, Korea, and Panama trade accords. Political wrangling, misjudgment, and miscalculations must not be allowed to cost the United States a significant new source of economic growth and cooperation in the future.