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US Congress to consider normal trade partner status for RF Sept 12

August 23, 2012, 16:03 UTC+3

The work on removing the existing trade restrictions with Russia will be launched in the near future

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WASHINGTON, August 23 (Itar-Tass) — American businessmen in the US Congress are lobbying the earliest granting to Russia the permanent normal trade partner status, Vice President at the National Foreign Trade Council Dan Flaherty said on Tuesday.

He expressed the hope that the legislators who are currently working in their districts will return to the discussion of the topic immediately on their return to Washington, D.C. and take the related decision no later than September 12. Otherwise, he warned, American companies would be disadvantaged, compared to their competitors from other countries that have already established full trade relations with Russia.

The European colleagues are already operating on the Russian market. And delays in the adoption of the law on trade with Russia would be to them an invitation to occupy niches that could be taken by US companies, according to Flaherty.

On Wednesday, Russia formally joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO), becoming its 156th member state. The negotiating process on the accession lasted for 17 years. The Working Party on the Accession of the Russian Federation was established on 16 June 1993. The Working Party completed its mandate on 10 November 2011, under the chairmanship of Ambassador Stef·n J·hannesson (Iceland). The Eighth Ministerial Conference formally approved the Accession Package of the Russian Federation on 16 December 2011. On 22 August 2012, the WTO welcomed the Russian Federation as its 156th member.

WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy welcomed ratification by the Russian government of the country’s accession to the World Trade Organisation and said he looked forward to Russia taking a seat next month at the table of trading nations. “It has been a long road to reach this destination but today, Russia has cleared the final hurdle and on 22 August it will take its rightful place at the table with family of trading nations, becoming the WTO 156th member. I look forward to Russia joining us next month,” said Mr. Lamy.

In 2011, Russia was the world’s ninth largest exporter, shipping $522 billion in goods and $54 billion in services to its trading partners. Last year, Russians imported $323 billion in goods and $90 billion in services, according to WTO.

The work on removing the existing trade restrictions with Russia will be launched in the near future. In particular, this is to be done in relations with 19 countries, including the United States, which as of July 1, 2012 continued to apply protective measures in trade relations with Russia.

Meanwhile, Flaherty told reporters that in his view, members of the House of Representatives of the US Congress are ready to consider the Russian issue on September 12. However, the press service of the House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has not confirmed the information that the vote will take place on that day. Instead, reporters were told to refer to Cantor’s recent statement that on the return after the August work period in the districts the House is ready to consider under a simplified procedure the bill on granting Russia the permanent normal trade partner status in conjunction with the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. According to him, this will be done on the condition that the US Senate and the President of the United States undertake to support (their) passing by the end of September.

President of the National Foreign Trade Council Bill Reinsch for his part expressed the supposition that at least 290 members of the House of Representatives - both Republicans and Democrats - would support granting Russia the permanent normal trade partner status.

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