U.S. Companies Urge Congress to Ignore Russian Rights Violations and Drop Trade Restrictions
After 18 years of negotiating, Russia is becoming part of the WTO, which means new export opportunities for American businesses. But these new ventures could be hampered unless Congress removes Cold War-era trade restrictions still in place against Russia.
Some lawmakers have balked at the push by U.S. companies and the Obama administration to establish normal trade relations with Russia.
“The Obama administration has not articulated a clear and coherent strategy regarding Russia,” Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said earlier this summer. “Instead, they ask Congress to simply pass permanent normal trade relations and remove Russia from long-standing human rights law, while ignoring Russia’s rampant corruption, theft of U.S. intellectual property, poor human rights record and adversarial foreign policies.”
Backing the administration on the issue is the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, which represents major American exporters to Russia, ranging from Caterpillar, John Deere, General Electric, Boeing, Halliburton and Dell to Avon Beauty Products, Wrigley and Walt Disney Studios.
Gaining access to Russian markets could prove huge for these companies eager to sell to a population of “142 million people with growing incomes and an expanding middle class,” wrote Andrew Karmer of The New York Times. If the restrictions were dropped, tariffs on vehicles shipped to Russia, for example, would drop from 15% to 5%.
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U.S. Companies Worry About Effect of Russia Joining W.T.O. (by Andrew Kramer, New York Times)
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