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House passes Russian/Maldovan PNTR bill

The House today passed a bill that provides permanent normal trade relations status to Russia and Maldova, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., called on the Senate to pass a PNTR measure when it returns after Thanksgiving.

This bipartisan legislation passed by a vote of 365-43, according to a House Ways and Means Committee news release. It repeals the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment and also includes new human rights-related sanctions on Russia and trade enforcement measures.

The Senate Finance Committee passed a PNTR bill in July and Baucus said he “will continue to work in the Senate to get PNTR across the finish line and onto the president’s desk before the end of the year.”

Baucus noted that Russia joined the World Trade Organization in August, but that Congress must enact PNTR before U.S. companies can gain full access to the emerging Russian market.

Until then, Baucus said, “American businesses will continue losing out on export opportunities in the Russian market to competitors in China, Europe and the more than 150 other WTO member nations.”

“Passage of this legislation will give Nebraska exporters of beef, poultry, eggs, and manufactured goods such as center pivot irrigation systems a level playing field in the Russian market and provide a forum in the WTO to hold Russia accountable for unfair trading practices,” said Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb.

“This vote brings us one step closer to the day when America’s businesses and workers will enjoy the full benefits of Russia’s World Trade Organization membership, and will no longer be disadvantaged compared to their global competitors,” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk said in a news release.

“The House made an important vote today to support American businesses’ and workers’ access to the Russian market on a level playing field with their global competitors. We look forward to action from the Senate that will send a bill to the president.”