The Coalition for US-Russia Trade – which includes the The National Chicken Council (NCC), National Turkey Federation (NTF), US Poultry & Egg Association (USPOULTRY) and USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC) – wrote letters to US congress and President Obama last week (8 November) asking them to “move quickly” to approve legislation to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia and repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment.
The letter pointed out that US exporters can currently be penalised by Russia because the Jackson-Vanik amendment – a set of trade restrictions first enacted in 1974 to ensure the Soviet Union allowed emigration of its Jewish population – means the US is violating World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.
“For nearly 80 days now, Russia has been a member of the WTO. For nearly 80 days now, all of the other 155 members of the WTO have been able to fully access Russia’s market liberalisations, including new rules related to services, science-based animal and plant health, and intellectual property protection – but US businesses cannot.
“For nearly 80 days now, US business has had no voice in the WTO’s rules-based system to engage Russia regarding any of its policies that may be inconsistent with the obligations it has undertaken as a WTO member. Without PNTR, the US has no enforceable rights and no recourse in the Russian market,” said the letters.
The coalition pointed out that, as the ninth largest economy in the world, Russia is a vital market and the US could lose out to competitors in Europe and China if normal trade relations are not established soon.
“In what should be an exciting time of Russia’s market-opening for US business, our executives have been relegated to an ‘observer’ status – watching as our competitors snap up contracts that will lock in commercial relationships for years to come,” said the letters. “With the US accounting for only about 4% of Russia’s goods imports last year, and the overall import market in Russia standing at approximately $400bn in goods and services in 2011, the US simply cannot afford to unilaterally cede short- and long-term opportunities in Russia.”
As a major poultry consumer, Russia is an important market for the US poultry industry.
“Since Russia already officially entered into the WTO last summer, PNTR will ensure that poultry companies can take full advantage of new business opportunities, that Russia’s commitments in the WTO are enforced, and that American businesses are on an equal playing field in the Russian market,” added NCC, NTF, USPOULTRY and USAPEEC.
“Continuing to export $300m of poultry to Russia annually will provide better incomes for more US workers and additional poultry to be produced by a growing number of family farmers across America.”