H. Cooper Specialist in International Trade and Finance
trade is governed by Title IV of the Trade Act of 1974, which conditions Russia’s normal
trade relations (NTR) status, including the “freedom-of-emigration” requirements
of the Jackson-Vanik amendment. On December 16, 2011, the 153 members of
the World Trade Organization (WTO) invited Russia to join the
organization, after Russia completed an 18-year accession process. The WTO
requires each member to accord newly acceding members “immediate and
unconditional” most-favored-nation (MFN) status which is called NTR in U.S. law.
Russia is expected to formally join the WTO sometime in the summer after its
parliament has approved the accession package which is expected to occur
sometime in early July. In order to comply with the WTO rule, the United
States would have to change Russia’s status from conditional NTR to
unconditional or permanent NTR (PNTR).
The change in Russia’s trade status will require legislation to lift the
restrictions of Title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 as they apply to Russia
and authorize the President to grant Russia PNTR. On June 12, 2012,
Senator Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced legislation
(S. 3285) to remove the application of Title IV to trade with Russia.
Therefore, Members of the 112th Congress confront the issue of whether to
authorize PNTR for Russia. Some Members of Congress want to link
congressional consideration of PNTR for Russia with S. 1039 and H.R. 4405—the
Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012.
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