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Notice

Request for Comments and Notice of Public Hearing Concerning Russia's Implementation of Its WTO Obligations

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AGENCY:

Office of the United States Trade Representative.

ACTION:

Request for comments and notice of public hearing concerning Russia's implementation of its obligations as a Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

SUMMARY:

The interagency Trade Policy Staff Committee (TPSC) will convene a public hearing and seek public comment to assist the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in the preparation of its annual report to Congress on Russia's implementation of its obligations as a Member of the WTO.

DATES:

Written comments are due by 11:59 p.m., Monday, September 28, 2015. Persons wishing to testify orally at the hearing must provide written notification of their intention, as well as a summary of their testimony, by 11:59 p.m., Monday, September 28, 2015. The hearing will be held on Thursday, October 8, 2015, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Rooms 1 & 2, 1724 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20508.

ADDRESSES:

Written comments and notifications of intent to testify should be submitted electronically via the Internet at www.regulations.gov. If you are unable to provide submissions at www.regulations.gov, please contact Yvonne Jamison, TPSC, at (202) 395-3475, to arrange for an alternative method of transmission.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

For procedural questions concerning written comments, please contact Yvonne Jamison at (202) 395-3475. All other questions regarding this notice should be directed to Betsy Hafner, Deputy Assistant United States Trade Representative for Russia and Eurasia, at (202) 395-9124.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:Start Printed Page 52536

1. Background

Russia became a Member of the WTO on August 22, 2012, and on December 21, 2012, following the termination of the application of the Jackson-Vanik amendment to Russia and the extension of permanent normal trade relations to the products of Russia, the United States and Russia both filed letters with the WTO withdrawing their notices of non-application and consenting to have the WTO Agreement apply between them. In accordance with section 201(a) of the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitskiy Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-208), USTR is required to submit, by December 21 of each year, a report to Congress on the extent to which Russia is implementing the WTO Agreement, including the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. The Report must also assess Russia's progress on acceding to the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). In addition, to the extent that USTR finds that Russia is not implementing fully the WTO Agreement or is not making adequate progress in acceding to the ITA or the GPA, USTR must describe in the report the actions it plans to take to encourage Russia to improve its implementation and/or increase its accession efforts. In accordance with section 201(a), and to assist it in preparing this year's report, the TPSC is hereby soliciting public comment.

The terms of Russia's accession to the WTO are contained in the Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization and the Protocol on the Accession of the Russian Federation to the WTO (including its annexes) (Protocol). The Report of the Working Party on the Accession of the Russian Federation (Working Party Report) provides detail and context to the commitments listed in the Protocol. The Protocol and Working Party Report can be found on USTR's Web page, https://ustr.gov/​node/​5887 or on the WTO Web site, http://docsonline.wto.org (document symbols: WT/ACC/RUS/70, WT/MIN(11)/2, WT/MIN(11)/24, WT/L/839, and WT/ACC/RUS/70/Add.1, WT/ACC/RUS/70/Add.2.

2. Public Comment and Hearing

USTR invites written comments and/or oral testimony of interested persons on Russia's implementation of the commitments made in connection with its accession to the WTO, including, but not limited to, commitments in the following areas: (a) Import regulation (e.g., tariffs, tariff-rate quotas, quotas, import licenses); (b) export regulation; (c) subsidies; (d) standards and technical regulations; (e) sanitary and phytosanitary measures; (f) trade-related investment measures; (g) taxes and charges levied on imports and exports; (h) other internal policies affecting trade; (i) intellectual property rights (including intellectual property rights enforcement); (j) services; (k) rule of law issues (e.g., transparency, judicial review, uniform administration of laws and regulations); and (l) other WTO commitments.

Written comments must be received no later than 11:59 p.m., Monday, September 28, 2015.

A hearing will be held on Thursday, October 8, 2015, in Rooms 1 & 2, 1724 F Street NW., Washington, DC 20508. Persons wishing to testify at the hearing must provide written notification of their intention by 11:59 p.m., September 28, 2015. The intent to testify notification must be made in the “Type Comment” field under docket number USTR-2015-0015 on the www.regulations.gov Web site and should include the name, address and telephone number of the person presenting the testimony. A summary of the testimony should be attached by using the “Upload File” field. The name of the file should also include who will be presenting the testimony. Remarks at the hearing should be limited to no more than five minutes to allow for possible questions from the TPSC.

3. Requirements for Submissions

Persons submitting a notification of intent to testify and/or written comments must do so in English and must identify (on the first page of the submission) “Russia's WTO Implementation.” In order to be assured of consideration, comments should be submitted by 11:59 p.m., September 28, 2015.

In order to ensure the timely receipt and consideration of comments, USTR strongly encourages commenters to make on-line submissions, using the www.regulations.gov Web site. To submit comments via www.regulations.gov, enter docket number USTR-2015-0015 on the home page and click “search.” The site will provide a search-results page listing all documents associated with this docket. Find a reference to this notice and click on the link entitled “Comment Now!” (For further information on using the www.regulations.gov Web site, please consult the resources provided on the Web site by clicking on “How to Use Regulations.gov” on the bottom of the home page).

The www.regulations.gov Web site allows users to provide comments by filling in a “Type Comment” field, or by attaching a document using an “Upload File” field. USTR prefers that comments be provided in an attached document. If a document is attached, it is sufficient to type “See attached” in the “Type Comment” field. USTR prefers submissions in Microsoft Word (.doc) or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf). If the submission is in an application other than those two, please indicate the name of the application in the “Type Comment” field.

For any comments submitted electronically containing business confidential information, the file name of the business confidential version should begin with the characters “BC”. Any page containing business confidential information must be clearly marked “BUSINESS CONFIDENTIAL” on the top of that page. Filers of submissions containing business confidential information must also submit a public version of their comments. The file name of the public version should begin with the character “P”. The “BC” and “P” should be followed by the name of the person or entity submitting the comments or reply comments. Filers submitting comments containing no business confidential information should name their file using the name of the person or entity submitting the comments.

Please do not attach separate cover letters to electronic submissions; rather, include any information that might appear in a cover letter in the comments themselves. Similarly, to the extent possible, please include any exhibits, annexes, or other attachments in the same file as the submission itself, not as separate files.

As noted, USTR strongly urges submitters to file comments through www.regulations.gov, if at all possible. Any alternative arrangements must be made with Yvonne Jamison in advance of transmitting a comment. Ms. Jamison should be contacted at (202) 395-3475. General information concerning USTR is available at www.ustr.gov. Comments will be placed in the docket and open to public inspection, except business confidential information. Comments may be viewed on the www.regulations.gov Web site by entering the relevant docket number in the search field on the home page.

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Edward Gresser,

Acting Chair, Trade Policy Staff Committee.

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[FR Doc. 2015-21494 Filed 8-28-15; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3290-F5-P