Reps. Knollenberg And Pallone Introduce Legislation to Grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations Status to Armenia

ANCA URGES CONGRESS TO ADOPT LEGISLATION AT THE EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY

WASHINGTON–DC–In a move aimed at opening the door to increased trade between the United States and Armenia–Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced legislation earlier today that would provide permanent normal trade relations status to the Republic of Armenia–reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).

This legislation would ensure lower tariffs on Armenian imports to the US and give greater Armenian access to US government credit facilities on a permanent basis. The move comes less than two months after Armenia was approved for entry into the World Trade Organization.

"Armenia’s accession to the WTO is a momentous event for this proud country that has worked hard to enact free-market reforms within a stable democratic framework," explained Rep. Knollenberg. "However–the full benefits of accession will not be realized unless Permanent Normal Trade Relations is granted to Armenia. Passing this bill will result in tangible benefits for Armenia and an even stronger relationship between our two countries. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill."We appreciate Congressmen Knollenberg and Pallone’s leadership in further strengthening the US-Armenia relationship by introducing legislation to permanently normalize the growing trade relationship between American and Armenian businesses," said Aram Hamparian–Executive Director of the ANCA. "We will–here in Washington–DC and through our chapters around the nation–educate our elected officials about the economic benefits of extending PNTR to Armenia–and urge the Congress to adopt this legislation at the earliest opportunity."

The Trade Act of 1974 excluded all Soviet countries from having normal trade relations (NTR) status with the United States. One provision of the Act–known as the Jackson-Vanick amendment–required the President to deny NTR to those countries that restricted free emigration. The policy was adopted–in part–in response to Communist government restrictions on the repatriation of Jews. According to the terms of the Jackson-Vanick amendment–when the President determines that freedom of emigration rights have been reinstated in a country–normal trade relations may be granted. To maintain NTR–the President must report to Congress twice a year that Jackson-Vanick requiremen’s have been met. While successive Presidents have waived the Jackson-Vanick Amendment restrictions on Armenia during the past decade–the passage of the Knollenberg bill–would grant Armenia permanent NTR (PNTR) status–without the need for bi-yearly Presidential determinations.

Permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status ensures lower duties on Armenian imports to the US–creating incentives for increased trade and investment opportunities between the two countries. As such–the measure strengthens bilateral relations between the two countries and helps reinforce the enduring friendship between the American and Armenian peoples. Increased US-Armenia trade and investment also helps to offset the impact of the Turkish and Azerbaijani blockades–estimated by the World Bank at up to $720 million a year.

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