E N F O R C E M E N T   AND   C O M P L I A N C E

Click here for the Trade Agreement


What is this Agreement and what does it do?

Who benefits from this Agreement?

How can this Agreement help my company?

Can the U.S. Government help me if I have a problem?

How can I get more information?

What is this Agreement and what does it do?

This Agreement laid the basis for an expansion of trade between the United States and Russia by providing for reciprocal most favored nation (MFN) treatment for each country's products. (MFN means treatment no less favorable than that accorded to products from any third country.) The Agreement also facilitates the establishment and operation of company offices and strengthens intellectual property protection. Procedures are provided to enable each country to protect its domestic industries against market disruption caused by a rapid rise in imports from the other country. Guidelines for the settlement of disputes arising from commercial transactions are also provided.

A trade agreement was originally concluded between the United States and the Soviet Union on June 1, 1990, and approved by the U.S. Congress in November, 1991. Technical adjustments were made to that agreement in order to reflect the establishment of an independent Russia, and the current Agreement incorporates those adjustments. It entered into force on the basis of an exchange of diplomatic notes on June 17, 1992. No further Congressional approval was required. This Agreement will remain in force for successive periods of three years, unless one Party informs the other at least 30 days prior to the expiration of a three-year term of its intent to terminate the Agreement.

Who benefits from this Agreement?

Any U.S. company interested in exporting to Russia or doing business there can benefit from this Agreement.

How can this Agreement help my company?

MFN and Non-discrimination

The Agreement provides that each signatory will accord most favored nation (MFN) treatment to products from the other signatory in all matters relating to:

customs duties and charges of any kind relating to imports and exports;

methods of payment for imports and exports;

rules and formalities relating to imports and exports (for example, those relating to customs clearance, transit, warehousing and transhipment);

taxes and other charges on imported products; and

rules concerning the sale, purchase, transport, distribution, storage and use of products in the domestic market.

The Agreement also provides that each signatory will accord non-discriminatory treatment to products from the other with respect to the application of quantitative restrictions, the granting of licenses and the allocation of currency needed to pay for imports.

The Agreement calls for step-by-step "national treatment" by Russia for products and services of the United States (i.e. the same treatment accorded to Russian products and services). Contracts between nationals and companies of the two countries are to be concluded on the basis of "customary commercial considerations" such as price, quality, delivery and terms of payment. Neither country's nationals or companies can be required to engage in barter or counter trade. Products from each country should receive most favored nation treatment with respect to technical regulations and standards, including conformity testing and certification.

Business Facilitation

The Agreement spells out in detail the treatment that each country shall accord to the other country's commercial representatives. Key provisions, as they apply to American companies doing business in Russia, are: Any Russian accreditation procedures for representatives of U.S. companies shall be carried out expeditiously. (Russian authorities shall exercise their "best efforts" to issue accreditation within 60 days of the submission of an application.) Representatives of U.S. companies shall be allowed to import office equipment and have access to office space and living accommodation at non-discriminatory prices. They shall be able to hire directly employees who are U.S., Russian or third country nationals. U.S. companies in Russia shall be allowed to advertise their products in the media or by direct mail, and they shall be free to conduct market studies in Russia.

The Russian Government agreed to make public, on a timely basis, all laws and regulations relating to commercial activity, including trade, investment, taxation, banking, insurance, other financial services, transport and labor.

A side letter to the Agreement contains reciprocal provisions governing the status, functions and organization of the U.S. Commercial Office in Moscow and the Russian Trade Representation in Washington. Another side letter provides for the opening of government tourism promotion offices in both countries.

Financial Provisions

The Agreement states that all commercial transactions between nationals and companies of the United States and Russia shall be made in U.S. dollars or any other freely convertible currency. No restrictions shall be placed on the export of freely convertible currencies. Commercial representatives shall be accorded most favored nation treatment with respect to opening and maintaining accounts in foreign and local currency, payments, remittances, transfers and rates of exchange.

Intellectual Property

The Agreement, along with related side letters, contains detailed provisions relating to intellectual property. It reaffirms the commitments that both governments have made in the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1967) and the Universal Copyright Convention (1952). It states that Russia will adhere to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (1971). It provides that both governments will:

provide copyright protection for computer programs and data bases;

provide protection for sound recordings;

provide product and process patent protection for all areas of technology (except those relating to atomic weapons) for a term of at least 20 years from the filing of an application or at least 17 years from the granting of a patent;

strengthen the protection of trade secrets.

Market Disruption Safeguards

The Agreement states that both signatories agree to consult promptly at the request of the other whenever imports cause, threaten to cause or contribute significantly to market disruption. The definition given in the Agreement for market disruption is: when imports of an article like, or directly competitive with, an article produced by a domestic industry are increasing so rapidly that they cause or threaten to cause material injury to the domestic industry.

If the consultations fail to resolve the problem, the importing country may impose quantitative restrictions, tariffs or any other measure "for such period of time it deems necessary" to prevent or remedy the market disruption. If warranted, the importing country can take emergency action to prevent or remedy market disruption without prior consultation, as long as consultations are requested immediately thereafter.

Dispute Settlement

The Agreement states that nationals, companies and organizations of either Party shall be accorded national treatment with respect to access to all courts and administrative bodies in the territory of the other Party. Arbitration is encouraged for the settlement of disputes arising out of commercial transactions, and each Party is obliged to ensure that an effective means exists within its territory for the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards.

Lend Lease

A side letter to this Agreement finally settled the long-standing issue of the Soviet Union's payment of its debt for the Lend Lease aid that it received from the United States during World War II. In return for receiving most favored nation treatment and access to export credit guarantees and insurance from the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the Soviet Union (which signed this Agreement in its original form in 1990, prior to the establishment of an independent Russia) agreed that the balance of $674,000,000 owed to the United States Government would become due and would be paid.

Can the U.S. Government help me if I have a problem?

Yes. If your company is experiencing difficulties exporting to Russia or doing business there because the Russian Government is not complying with this Agreement, contact the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance's hotline at the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Center can help you understand your rights under this Agreement, and can alert the relevant U.S. Government officials to make inquiries with Russian authorities, if appropriate, that could help you resolve your problem.

How can I get more information?

The complete text of the U.S.-Russia Trade Relations Agreement, with the side letters that were exchanged when the Agreement was concluded, is available from the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance's web site.

If you have questions about this Agreement or how to use it, you can e-mail the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance (TANC), which will forward your message to the Commerce Department's Designated Monitoring Officer for the Agreement. You can also contact the Designated Monitoring Officer at the following address:

Designated Monitoring Officer -

U.S.-Russia Trade Relations Agreement

Office of Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia

U.S. Department of Commerce

14th Street & Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20230

Phone: (202) 482 - 3952

Fax: (202) 482 - 3042

The Designated Monitoring Officer can provide you with useful contacts and advice.

For additional information about trade and business relations between the United States and Russia, you may wish to contact the following web sites:

The Country Commercial Guide on Russia prepared annually by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, is a valuable resource for any American company doing business in Russia.

The website of the Commerce Department's Office of Enforcement & Compliance contains information on US trade law and press releases on current anti-dumping cases and suspension agreements with non-market economy countries.

TANC offers these agreements electronically as a public service for general reference. Every effort has been made to ensure that the text presented is complete and accurate. However, copies needed for legal purposes should be obtained from official archives maintained by the appropriate agency.