U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita (IN-4) issued a statement after the House Committee on Ways and Means held a legislative markup today regarding the Rokita-cosponsored “Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act,” H.R. 6156. The bill was referred favorably by the committee and now awaits action by the full House of Representatives.

The bill would establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia and Moldova, and it would enable the United States and key Hoosier industries to benefit from pending Russian admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which is expected to occur on August 22.

“In the global marketplace, it is important that the United States compete on a level playing field with other industrialized countries. That is why I cosponsored this bill which, along with Russia’s pending WTO admission, will go a long way to increasing opportunities for American goods and services in the Russian marketplace. I look forward to increased economic benefits for Hoosier job creators and consumers in coming years,” said Rokita in a statement after the committee’s passage of the legislation.

The Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act would repeal an amendment to the 1974 Trade Act which pressured the Soviet Union to allow emigration of victims of religious persecution. That amendment succeeded in its goal, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago, Russia allowed freedom of emigration for all citizens. Since 1992, U.S. presidents have issued yearly certifications declaring that Russia is in full compliance with the Jackson-Vanik amendment.

H.R. 6156 would acknowledge the completion of the objectives in the Jackson-Vanik amendment and would repeal the amendment so that normalized U.S.-Russia trade relations can occur in conjunction with Russia’s admission to the WTO.

H.R. 6156 is strongly supported by the Coalition for U.S.-Russia Trade, whose members include groups and employers representing key Hoosier industries, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Pork Producers Council, Eli Lilly and Company, Caterpillar, Inc. (a co-chair of the coalition’s steering committee), General Motors Company, and Zimmer, Inc.

Russia has the world’s ninth largest economy, and its growing middle class presents a significant opportunity for American businesses. Among the United States’ top fifteen trading partners, Russia was the market where American companies enjoyed the fastest export growth last year. The President’s Export Council has estimated that U.S. exports to Russia – which were estimated to be more than $11 billion in 2011 – could be two or three times higher after Russia joins the WTO.