4 Jun 2012

U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk: U.S. works on plan to lift Jackson-Vanik amendment, so that to fully benefit from Russia‘s entry to WTO

U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk has given an interview to Interfax on the sidelines of a meeting of APEC trade ministers in Kazan in which he speaks about U.S.-Russian cooperation in the APEC format, the lifting of the Jackson-Vanik amendment and Russia‘s progress in intellectual property rights sphere.

Question: What trade and economic projects and ideas are you going to discuss here in Kazan? What trade and economic projects will be discussed in Vladivostok this fall?

Answer: The advantage of us being here in Kazan for APEC is that it gives us an opportunity to advance certain principles to liberalize trade in a plural-lateral format such as APEC, but also in a smaller format through those of us who are a part of the Transpacific Partnership. And then finally, we are excited to work with Russia, as they are about to formally become a member of the World Trade Organization, to advance certain of our bilateral interests as well.

Q.: What are the major objectives of the U.S. participation in the APEC summit on the trade side? What is the U.S.-Russia trade agenda in APEC?

A.: We believe one of the real values of APEC realized over last 20 plus years is that we have demonstrated that it is a wonderful incubator, if not a laboratory, for new principles and disciplines in trade liberalization among certainly the Asia Pacific, but much of what we have done in APEC has become the foundation for plural-lateral, other trilateral trade agreements.
What we would like to accomplish here in Kazan is to further the work we began at the APEC forum hosted by the United States in December to continue rationalize our supply chain and take cost out and make it simpler, cheaper, easier for our businesses. We would like to further ingrain disciplines that will foster innovation based on non-discriminatory market participles. And then finally, we very much want to take the next step towards realizing the ambition of our leaders to promote trade and environmental goods and services by defining the list of environmental goods to which the tariff cut the leaders agreed in Honolulu will apply. So, we want to make continued progress and show concrete results for our businesses that APEC is not one of the more leading-edge forms, but we can also produce concrete results for those businesses throughout the APEC region.

Q.: This is about the U.S. view, but what about Russian-U.S. cooperation in the APEC format?

A.: We have been very pleased that Russia has identified a number of issues it would like to see continued liberalization on trade. Our job, as trade ministers, is to make sure that by the time President Putin hosts the leaders in Vladivostok in September that we have made progress on those issues that Russia has identified, as well as those that we carried over from our meeting in Honolulu.

Q.: When the Jackson-Vanik amendment will be repealed? If this does not happen until the Russia‘s WTO accession, WTO rules will not apply in U.S.-Russia trade relations. Who will lose from this more - the American or Russian business?

A.: Rather than speculate on who would loose more, our objective in the United States is to work with our Congress towards the lifting of the Jackson-Vanik application to Russia, so that we can extend permanent normal trade relations status. Our administration and President Obama have been very direct in communicating to our Congress that we want to make sure that American exporters, manufactures, farmers and workers have all of the benefits of Russia‘s membership in the WTO. And we are working with our Congress on a plan to lift the Jackson-Vanik restrictions, so that we can fully benefit from Russia‘s membership.

Q.: And when…

A.: We are working with our Congress as we speak. I think evidence of the interest [] is the fact that one of the chairmen of the two major committees that would act on thisб Chairman Max Baucus of our Senate Finance Committee, in fact visited Russia in February. I know Chairman Camp of our House Ways and Means Committee has already held an evidentiary hearing, I believe you are going to see other congressional action through the summer.

Q.: What is your outlook on the dynamics of trade between Russia and the United States in connection with Russia‘s WTO entry?

A.: One of the reason President Obama made the commitment then to President Medvedev, and we followed through all that, to work with Russia to achieve its long desired objective to join the WTO. I think we both believe that the trade and investment among our two economies currently is not at all coinciding with its potential. And we believe there is explosive room for growth in this, and we think there is much to be gained and benefited from Russia‘s businesses by investing in the United States, and we know that there are businesses in the United States in the manufacturing sector, in our services sector, in our agricultural sector that are anxious and excited to have the opportunity to sell in this market. I think all of us believe that this relationship is one that one can see explosive role in terms of exports and our investment in the very near future.

Q.: What is your view on the situation with the protection of intellectual property rights in Russia? Has any progress been made in recent years?

A.: For the United States innovation is the lifeblood of our economy, and in order for us to address our ambition to grow our economy in a more robust path and create jobs that Americans deserve, we have to have respect for rule of law, and we have to have strong respect for the work product of our creativity. We do that by having at least as strong intellectual property rights as we can. All of us grew up with some notion of imitation being the sincere form of flattery, but when it occurs in the form of theft, piracy or countering that bribes the spirit of that innovation. So, what we seek from Russia is what we seek from all trading partners is at least a basic acceptance and understanding of having strong intellectual property rights is not something that you do for the United States, that‘s something you do to foster your own innovation and growth. And we are pleased that as part of Russia‘s WTO accession, it‘s made progress on a number of these areas in their laws, wh ere we want to continue to work with Russia on the full implementation of those, particularly the enforcement of those laws and combating piracy and counterfeiting, so we think we‘ve made a good start, but we recognize there is more work to be done.