Former Ag Secretary John Block –
Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.
And now for today’s commentary—
Russia was welcomed into the World Trade Organization last month. That was a very important step which will require Russia to live by predictable and reasonable and enforceable trading rules. It should be celebrated as a big day for the U.S. because more exports will mean more jobs.
However, we don’t qualify to receive these advantages because we have in place an antiquated law dating back to the 1970s – the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. That law restricts U.S. trade with countries that limit immigration rights. We were trying at that time to help thousands of Jews leave the Soviet Union. The time is well overdue to throw out that ancient, irrelevant law and extend permanent, normal trading relations to Russia. Failure to extend PNTR to Russia won’t hurt Russia. It hurts us. It will cost us thousands of jobs.
We need legislation to get this done now. Other countries are already getting ahead of us. We have been slow to act on trade the last four years. It took forever to finally pass the free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama. And now, Russia is in the World Trade Organization and we aren’t positioned to take advantage.
Russia is one of the world’s fastest growing markets. We have had many trade conflicts with Russia. Remember the grain embargo? President Reagan lifted the embargo on April 24, 1981. A couple years later, I signed a long-term grain agreement with the Soviet Union. We have had many trading problems with Russia over the years involving chickens and other food products. It’s time to put in place the rules of the WTO.
As Secretary Vilsack said, “PNTR is not a favor to Russia. It is a significant opportunity for America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers.”
Tell the Congress to pass permanent normal trade relations for Russia.
In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to www.johnblockreports.com.
Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.