NAM Optimistic WTO Deal With Russia Will Address Intellectual-Property Rights

Russian membership in WTO will help U.S. manufacturing export market.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is encouraged the U.S. and Russia have reached an agreement in principle on the the market access concessions Russia must make to join the World Trade Organization, especially in relation to intellectual property rights, said Frank Vargo, NAM’s vice president for International Economic Affairs.

The deal, which has been in negotiation for eight years, is a key element in making Russia part of the WTO, Vargo said.

“The NAM has worked long and hard with U.S. negotiators to ensure that U.S. manufactured goods would get a good deal,” commented Vargo. “While the results aren’t final yet, from what we can tell so far, most of the issues raised by the NAM’s Special Working Group on Russia appear to have been addressed successfully. We look forward to seeing the deal finalized next week."

Vargo was encouraged by Russia's agreement to protect and enforce intellectual property rights with specific actions and dates before they sign-on as part of the WTO. He believes this will alleviate the problems that the U.S. now faces with China, which did not make intellectual property concessions before they signed on to the WTO.

The NAM forecasts Russia's global imports for 2006 to be approximately $120 billion, and since 80 percent of U.S. exports to Russia are manufactured goods, this is an important market for NAM members, Vargo pointed out.

After the bilateral agreement is signed, the WTO Working Party, consisting of the U.S. and other WTO members, will negotiate with Russia to make sure that Russia's laws do confirm to WTO standards for membership.