Editorial: Normalized trade with Russia benefits nation, region
Congress should embrace permanent normal trade relations with Russia.
Seattle Times Editorial
The U.S. House of Representatives should approve HR 6156, which would allow the Obama administration to grant permanent normal trade relations with Russia. Increased trade is good for political relations and is good business for America and the state of Washington.
For years, Russia was the largest economy outside the World Trade Organization’s web of rules. On Aug. 22, it became a WTO member. As a member, it promises equal treatment for the products of other WTO members if it has permanent normal trade relations with them.
Under the U.S. Jackson-Vanik law of 1974, Russia can have normal trade relations only a year at a time, based on whether it allows its people to emigrate. That law, named after U.S. Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, D-Wash., and Rep. Charles Vanik, D-Ohio, was passed during the Cold War to prod the Soviet Union to allow Jews to emigrate to Israel.
The new Russia is no longer an enemy. It allows emigration, and since 1994 the U.S. government has extended normal trade relations every year.
It is time to make these trade relations permanent. Our government still has differences with the Russian state, which by our standards is not fully democratic or free. But many other places are also not fully democratic or free, and our government allows Americans to trade with customers in those places.
There is bipartisan agreement on this. The Democratic and Republican national platforms support normal relations with Russia, and HR 6156 is co-sponsored by members of both parties, including Washington state’s own U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott, Democrat, and Dave Reichert, Republican.
This bill is of particular interest to Washington because of this state’s orientation to exports and proximity to Russian Asia. Boeing is the largest exporter to Russia here, but there are others.
Companies in Washington have had Russian customers for computer software, trucks, mining equipment, wood pulp, paint products, fish, apples and pears.
If this bill is passed, the relationship will grow.