The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) Thursday applauded passage of historic legislation that will extend permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Russia, saying the bill will boost already-growing American spirits exports to the world’s third-largest spirits market by volume, and sixth-largest by value.
“Russia PNTR has been a long time coming and is critical for American spirits exporters to make further inroads into the expanding Russian market,” said Peter Cressy, DISCUS President and CEO. “American distillers can expect to see strong growth in Russia, as well as increased jobs here in the United States, when the President signs the bill.”
Russia PNTR Passage Key to Growth in Expanding Market
In recent years, Russia has become an important market for U.S. whiskeys and rums in particular. Russian imports of U.S. distilled spirits totaled $56.3 million in January-September 2012, which represents a 13% increase compared to the previous year, according to Global Trade Atlas, which collects customs information from countries around the world. In fact, over the last decade Russian imports of U.S. spirits have grown 2,254%, albeit from a very small base. In 2011, total spirits imports from the U.S. were valued at $89.2 million, up drastically from 2002 when it was only $3.8 million.
Russia became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) on August 22, liberalizing its trade policy and agreeing to abide by globally-recognized principles of fair and transparent trade. However, Cressy pointed out that the lack of PNTR status for Russia has prevented U.S. distillers and other American companies from taking advantage of Russia’s commitments and WTO enforcement mechanisms already enjoyed by all other WTO members.
“We applaud members of Congress for passing this important trade legislation and raise a toast to the U.S. officials who negotiated the accession package,” Cressy concluded.
H.R. 6156, the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, passed the House on November 16 by an overwhelming 365-43 vote. After passing the Senate today by a vote of 92-4, the bill now moves to the President's desk where he is expected to sign it.