Baucus Bill to Boost Beef Sales to Russia Wins Unanimous Support in Committee
Senators Bipartisan Bill Headed to Senate Floor
Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012
(Washington, DC) - Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus secured unanimous support in committee today for his bipartisan bill to make sure Montana can take advantage of new job-creating export opportunities when Russia joins the World Trade Organization (WTO) this summer. Baucus' bill, now headed to the Senate floor, will ensure Montana ranchers can sell more than 60,000 tons of American beef to Russia.
Baucus highlighted the importance of quick action ahead of today's vote. He noted that Russia will join the WTO next month with or without action by the United States, and failure to pass this bill before that deadline would put American farmers, ranchers, workers, and businesses at a disadvantage with competitors in China and other countries.
"All this boils down to one thing: jobs," Baucus told the panel. "In my home state of Montana, one in five jobs is tied to agriculture, and ranching is a major driver of our ag economy. When Montana ranchers can sell more beef in Russia, it means they can support more workers in Montana. More trade means more jobs; it's that simple. The proposal that we are marking up today will make sure American businesses can go after those jobs."
Baucus is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, with sole jurisdiction over international trade. Today's vote was 24 to 0 in favor of Baucus' bill.
What Baucus' Bill Means for Montana Beef:
Ø Under Baucus' bill, Russia's accession to the WTO will significantly expand market access for Montana beef by allowing 60,000 tons of frozen U.S. beef to be sold in Russia under a reduced tariff of 15 percent. In addition, Montana ranchers will also be able to sell up to 11,000 tons of fresh chilled beef in Russia at the reduced tariff. And, Montana ranchers, as well as ranchers across the United States, will be able to export high-quality beef above the allotted amount at a 15 percent rate as well.
Ø Russia is already America's 5th largest export market for American beef by volume. The U.S. currently exports 48,000 tons and current tariffs fluctuate from 15 to 60 percent.
· American exports of goods and services into Russia are expected to double to $19 billion within five years of Russia's accession to the WTO.
· But in order for American companies, and Montana ranchers, to receive the full benefits of Russia joining the WTO, the U.S. Congress must pass legislation providing Russia with what is known as Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR). This is what the bill Baucus introduced today will do.
· Russia agreed to open its markets and follow WTO rules as part of its accession to the WTO. Unlike a free trade agreement, the United States will not have to grant any market access benefits to Russia as part of its accession. But American ranchers and businesses will not be able to benefit from Russia joining the WTO without Congress passing the PNTR legislation Baucus introduced today.
· WTO member countries formally invited Russia to join the WTO in December 2011. Russia will become a WTO member 30 days after it ratifies the accession agreement, which it is on track to do by July 23.
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