Bill Granting PNTR to Armenia Passes House
Washington, DC U.S. Representative Joe Knollenberg (R-MI) and U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, applauded passage in the U.S. House of Representatives today of legislation granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) to Armenia.
The legislation, which was introduced by Knollenberg and Pallone as H.R. 528, and sponsored by 112 other Members of Congress, passed the House by voice vote as part of H.R. 3521, the Tax Relief Extension Act. Including H.R. 528 as part of H.R. 3521 expedited passage of the bill.
Armenia, as a former Soviet republic, is prohibited from receiving unconditional and permanent normal trade relations with the United States under the Trade Act of 1974. Currently, Armenia receives NTR treatment from the United States under a presidential waiver that must be renewed each year. When this legislation is signed into law, the waiver will no longer be necessary, ensuring greater competitiveness for Armenian exports into the United States. Most importantly, it will allow U.S. and Armenian goods greater access to each others markets.
"Armenias accession to the WTO earlier this year was a momentous event for this proud country that has worked hard to enact free-market reforms within a stable democratic framework," said 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 encourage the Senate to pass this bill quickly and I look forward to its signing."
"This legislation took a giant step forward today and it clearly represents Armenias increasing importance as a U.S. trading partner," said Pallone. "Granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations to Armenia serves as a testament to the strong, shared values between the U.S. and Armenia. Its my hope this bill will help to alleviate the pressure on Armenia brought about by the decade-old dual blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan."
Total United States-Armenia bilateral trade for 2002 amounted to more than $134,200,000.