U.S. Business Groups See Small Window for Russia Trade Bill Before Election

Tuesday, 21 August 2012
Wall Street Journal

With Russia poised to join the World Trade Organization on Wednesday, U.S. business groups are pushing for quick action by Congress to lift trade restrictions and limit any damage to U.S. economic or political interests.

... Within a couple days of returning to work next month, the House is expected to vote on legislation that would provide permanent, normal trade relations with Russia by repealing Jackson-Vanik, along with measures aimed at punishing Russian human-rights violators, several business representatives told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. That could potentially pave the way toward quick action by the Senate.

"I would think that if the House acts that early in September, there would be a good bit of momentum going forward, and a good bit of pressure on the Senate to follow suit after they adjourn for the election," said Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents multinationals.

... If the trade restrictions are lifted next month, that should limit any fallout from Russia's WTO entry, but the real concern is that further delay would cause lasting damage to trade with Russia, said Mr. O'Flaherty

"The danger is that it spills over into the next Congress, in which you have a hiatus of a number of months," he said, warning of the potential impact to both economic and political ties with Russia.

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