Earlier this month, Congress passed legislation to normalize U.S. trade relations with Russia, an action that is expected to substantially increase market access for U.S.-based chemical and pharmaceutical companies.
The bill (H.R. 6156), which President Barack Obama signed into law on Dec. 14, lifts Cold War-era trade restrictions that have put U.S. firms at a competitive disadvantage since Russia joined the World Trade Organization in August.
The law repeals the so-called Jackson-Vanik amendment, a 1974 law that limited U.S. trade with the former Soviet Union because it wasn’t allowing Jews to emigrate freely.
“Our businesses will finally have the same rights and opportunities in the Russian market as their foreign counterparts,” says Randi Levinas, executive director of the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade, a broad-based business lobby. Its more than 500 members include the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America.
Economists estimate that U.S. exports of goods and services, now about $11 billion per year, could double over the next five years under normalized trade relations with Russia and its 140 million consumers. “Access to new foreign markets like Russia is increasingly essential for the continued expansion and competitiveness of American chemistry,” ACC said in a statement.