Russia not Ready for WTO Privileges

The IAM is calling on lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to oppose the admission of Russia to the World Trade Organization (WTO) until that country can provide evidence of substantive improvements in its abysmal labor and human rights record.

“Russia’s labor code fails to secure fundamental labor rights and its application is worse; human rights leaders have been brutally assaulted and union communications censored. In addition, journalists, lawyers and human rights activists have been jailed without due process and even killed,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger in a letter to Senators and Representatives. “If Russia receives Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status and joins the WTO, it will be a repeat of our devastating experience with China. Since China joined the WTO, our trade deficit with China has ballooned to nearly $300 billion. For American workers this has meant the loss of 1.9 million manufacturing jobs and stagnant wages.”

Russia’s industrial policy is focused on the growth of its heavily subsidized aerospace industry – one of the few sectors where the U.S. has a positive balance of trade. Like China, Russia continues to demand transfers of technology and production in return for market access, while requiring more local content for its manufacturers. There are also legitimate concerns whether Russia will reduce its tariffs on U.S. machinery, electronics and aerospace products in any meaningful fashion.

“Questions whether or not Russia will follow the same path as China when it comes to honoring WTO rules should be answered now, before PNTR is even considered, not after,” said Buffenbarger. “Ten years after China’s succession, the U.S., its businesses and workers face widespread violations of China’s WTO commitments. We cannot afford to repeat the same mistake.”