Vilsack promotes trade with Russia to strengthen U.S. ag
June 22, 2012 11:30 AM
Secretary Tom Vilsack testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance Thursday to support American jobs in agriculture through permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) for Russia.
Vilsack said global demand for U.S. agricultural products continues to make American agriculture a bright spot for the economy. Establishing a PNTR with Russia, one of the top export markets for the U.S., would continue agriculture’s success.
“PNTR is not a favor to Russia. It is a significant opportunity for America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers. It will provide improved, predictable access to Russia’s 140 million consumers and an expanding middle class that has grown by more than 50 percent in the last decade,” Vilsack said.
U.S. agricultural exports to Russia totaled almost $1.4 billion in the 2011 fiscal year. As Russia expands its livestock industry it will need more feed, cattle and genetics. Additionally, consumer trends show Russia’s demanding more high-value products, including USDA Choice and Prome cuts of beef.
If Russia is granted PNTR, it would permanently give the country the market access it has been extended since 1992. Vilsack said as Russia joins the World Trade Organization, it will most likely increase exports from the European Union, Brazil, Argentina and WTO member countries.
According to Vilsack, Russia’s membership in the WTO means:
- U.S. farmers and exporters will have more certain and predictable market access as a result of Russia’s commitment to avoid raising tariffs on any products above the negotiated rates and to apply non-tariff measures in a uniform and transparent manner;
- Russia will be obligated to apply its trade regime in a manner consistent with WTO rules, including those governing sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade, limiting its ability to impose arbitrary measures that disrupt trade; and
- Russia will be obligated to follow detailed rules governing transparency in the development of trade policies and measures. Unlike today, this will include requiring the notification of draft rules and opportunities for public comments on rules prior to their adoption; and
- Russia’s compliance with its obligations will be enforceable through use of the WTO dispute settlement process.
For the full transcript, click here.