With Russia joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the coming months, Congress must act by granting Russia Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) in order for U.S. workers and businesses to benefit from Russia's agreement to lower overall tariff rates, enhance intellectual property enforcement and diminish technical barriers to trade.

"If Congress does not grant Russian PNTR in the coming months, U.S. equipment manufacturers will be at a significant economic disadvantage in the Russian marketplace," stated the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

With critical transportation infrastructure and a vast agricultural sector in need of modernization, Russia will remain a vital market for agricultural and construction equipment, noted AEM. "Congress must act on Russian PNTR because failure to do so will result in lost U.S. market share as our international competitors take advantage of congressional inaction."

AEM, along with business and industry partners, is fully engaging Members of Congress and their staffs and working with a broad range of coalitions to advocate the significant economic necessity for Congress to finally act to grant Russian PNTR status.

As background, upon Russia's entry into the WTO, all member states will economically benefit by having most-favored-nation (MFN) status with Russia – except, that is, the United States, unless Congress repeals the outdated and no longer applicable 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, which prevents the U.S. from granting Russia Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR).

The Jackson-Vanik amendment was created in response to the Soviet Union preventing certain citizens from emigrating. However, since 1994 following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has been found to be in full compliance with the Jackson-Vanik freedom-of-emigration criteria, and the U.S. has provided Russia with normal trade relations on an annual basis.