House Passes Bill to Ease U.S. Trade with Russia

November 19, 2012 | The House of Representatives voted 365-43 on Friday, November 15 to pass a bill that would grant Russia Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with the United States.

As previously reported, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) recently signed onto a letter alongside 400 industry groups and companies requesting that Congress grant Russia PNTR. The letter stated that PNTR with Russia would help U.S. businesses looking to export to the country. While Russia formally joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in summer 2012, the U.S. would need to grant Russia PNTR in order to take advantage of the concessions offered through the WTO, such as lowered trade barriers and increased transparency and accountability.

The bill, which repeals Cold War-era legislation that tied trade with Russia to the free immigration of persecuted minorities, includes a provision to punish human rights violators in Russia.

Russia is currently the ninth largest economy in the world with a growing middle class. Of the U.S.’s top 15 trading partners, American companies enjoyed the fastest export growth (38%) in Russia last year.  There are opportunities for further growth – in 2011, Russia imported $310 billion in goods but U.S. goods accounted for only 5% of those imports.  

According to the New York Times, experts estimate that PNTR with Russia could double the amount of American exports to that country.