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News 579 views last update:29 Aug 2012

Russia puts US export at risk

US agricultural exports to Russia could suffer unless Congress passes legislation soon recognising the former Cold War enemy is now a fellow member of the World Trade Organisation, trade experts and business groups said to Reuters.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that US exports to Russia could double over the next five years to $11 billion as a result of the tariff cuts and other reforms Moscow made to join the WTO.

But in the short term, US exports to Russia are at risk because Congress has not yet lifted a 1974 provision known as the Jackson-Vanik amendment that stands in the way of "permanent normal trade relations" (PNTR) with Moscow.

Jackson-Vanik tied normal US tariff rates to the rights of Jews in the former Soviet Union to emigrate freely.

The White House has deemed Russia to be compliance with the provision for nearly 20 years. But it remains on the books and is at odds with WTO rules requiring members to provide each other normal trade relations on an unconditional basis.

"The whole world is ready - except the United States. Until Congress approves PNTR with Russia, Moscow will be free to deny the United States the full benefits of its reforms," said Thomas Donohue, president of the US Chamber of Commerce.

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