PNTR Will Ensure Improved Market Access for American Distillers

WASHINGTON, DC – The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) applauded today’s House passage of legislation granting permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) to Russia, calling the trade bill essential to the growth of American spirits exports to Russia.

“Russia PNTR is critical for American spirits producers to make further inroads into the rapidly expanding Russian market,” said DISCUS Senior Vice President Christine LoCascio, pointing out that the spirits industry can benefit from Russia’s new WTO membership – allowing significant tariff reductions and other important market access improvements – only if Congress passes PNTR. “We applaud House leaders for passing this important trade legislation and urge swift passage in the Senate.”

Among the benefits for the industry are 25 percent tariff reductions by 2015 from two Euros per liter to 1.4 Euros per liter for whiskey and to 1.5 Euros per liter for other spirits.  In addition, Russia will be required to abide by internationally-accepted trade rules, including non-discrimination and transparency.  The U.S. will also have recourse to the WTO dispute settlement process, which has helped to overturn discriminatory trade practices in several key spirits export markets.

Russian imports of American whiskey, rum, and other distilled spirits have exploded in the past decade, growing 2,254% from $3.8 million in 2002 to $89.2 million in 2011.  Whiskey accounted for 55% of the 2011 total, while rum accounted for 41%.

“Passage of PNTR is key for job creation in the U.S. and will boost American exports without risk or cost to the U.S.,” LoCascio concluded.