Cat Chairman urges Congress to establish permanent trade with Russia

By WEEK Reporter

Cat Chairman urges Congress to establish permanent trade with Russia

June 20, 2012 Updated Jun 20, 2012 at 1:39 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, DC -- Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman urged Congress to act with a sense of urgency on Wednesday by passing legislation establishing Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia.

"If Congress fails to take action, I am concerned American companies that export to Russia— and the jobs supported by those exports— could be put at risk and we will be placed at a competitive disadvantage when Russia enters the World Trade Organization (WTO) later this year," Oberhelman said.

"In the last five years, Caterpillar's exports to Russia from its U.S. factories totaled nearly $2 billion, but Russia's entry into the WTO, combined with PNTR, could open the door for greater exports and the American jobs that go along with those exports.  If Congress fails to approve PNTR, it could give Caterpillar's competitors based in Europe and Asia an advantage in the Russian market," Oberhelman added.

In testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, Oberhelman outlined the benefits to the United States economy based on Russia entering the WTO and Congress taking action to normalize trade with Russia.

"Russia imported nearly $300 billion in goods in 2011, yet the United States accounted for only five percent of those imports.  An economy of this size should not be just our 31st largest goods export market. Clearly there is a lot of opportunity to increase U.S. exports to Russia," Oberhelman said.

Since 1992, the United States has maintained Normal Trade Relations (NTR) with Russia on a temporary, year-to-year basis. The WTO, however, requires its members to give each other PNTR. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – and a long list of former U.S. diplomats – has endorsed Russia PNTR.