Local congressman introduces bill to normalize trade relations with Kazakhstan
Legislation would provide permanent, normal trade relations with Kazakhstan
– United States Representatives Jimmy Panetta (Carmel-By-The-Sea Calif., Dist. 19), Robert Aderholt (Haleyville Ala., District 4), Dina Titus (Las Vegas, Nev., District 1), Darin LaHood (Peoria, Ill., District 16), and Ami Bera (Elk Grove, Calif., District 6), collectively introduced the bipartisan Kazakhstan Permanent Normal Trade Relations Act of 2023.
This legislation would repeal the Soviet-era Jackson-Vanik Amendment which denies Kazakhstan permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with the United States, based on obsolete reasoning, according to a press release from Panetta.
The Jackson-Vanik Amendment is an outdated Soviet-era provision of the Trade Act of 1974 that was originally proposed to promote free movement in response to Soviet restrictions on Jewish emigration. Although Kazakhstan has been subject to the requirements under this Amendment, it does not restrict the free flow of emigrants and allows its citizens the right and opportunity to emigrate, including those of Jewish descent. Moreover, Kazakhstan has been found to be in full compliance with the freedom of emigration requirements under the Trade Act of 1974.
In 2021, trade relations between the United States and Kazakhstan totaled $2.5 billion, with U.S. firms investing billions of dollars in the country. Additionally, Kazakhstan was officially acceded to the World Trade Organization in 2015. Nevertheless, many other former Soviet states, including Russia, are not subject to the trade restrictions of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.
“Outdated relics like the Jackson-Vanik Amendment are interfering with the United States’ efforts to grow our trade and diplomatic relationships with countries that surround Russia,” said Panetta. “Through the repeal of this amendment, we’ll strengthen our bilateral relationship with Kazakhstan, open a new trading partner for critical minerals and other resources, and foster greater investment and diplomatic ties between our two nations. This legislation is a common-sense, forward-looking step to improving the United States’ competitive edge in Central Asia and beyond.”
“As co-chair of the House Kazakhstan Caucus, I’m proud to be part of the introduction of this bill, which would establish permanent normal trade relations with Kazakhstan,” said Aderholt. “I’d like to thank my fellow co-chair, Rep. Panetta, for his leadership on this issue, and look forward to continuing to work together during this Congress to strengthen our bilateral relationship with Kazakhstan.”
“Excluding Kazakhstan from Permanent Normal Trade Relations status is a Cold War-era practice that needs to be remedied. Kazakhstan has annually documented its compliance with U.S trade regulations, which we have regularly certified for nearly three decades,” said Titus. “Granting Kazakhstan this status will provide new opportunities for businesses in Southern Nevada.”
“Granting PNTR to Kazakhstan is a commonsense step to strengthen America’s trade interest in Central Asia,” said LaHood. “As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I will continue to support efforts that bolster our economic and national security, foster greater diplomatic relations in the region, and strengthen American competitiveness.”
“Repealing the outdated Jackson-Vanik amendment for Kazakhstan and authorizing permanent normal trade relations opens doors to increased trade and investment opportunities between our two countries,” said Bera, “This bipartisan legislation not only benefits American businesses and workers, but it also deepens our diplomatic engagement with a key partner and young democracy in the Central Asian region. This bill is a crucial step to build on our bilateral cooperation fostering economic growth, promoting human rights, and advancing mutual prosperity.”
The United States has previously granted PNTR status to Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria, China, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mongolia, Romania, Ukraine, and Vietnam. In 2015, Kazakhstan acceded to the World Trade Organization (WTO) following a nearly twenty-year accession process. The country is a member in good standing and was originally selected to host the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference. Reps. Panetta and Aderholt currently serve as co-chairs of the House Kazakhstan Caucus.