Millennium Post

US might repeal cold war-era trade laws

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has signalled that efforts are on to repeal a Cold War-era legislation within this month that restricts trade ties with Russia.

‘To make sure our companies get to compete here in Russia, we are working closely with the United States Congress to terminate the application to Jackson-Vanik to Russia and grant Russian Permanent Normalized Trade Relations,’ Clinton said on Saturday.

Clinton's comments regarding the so-called Jackson-Vanik amendment came as she addressed business leaders in the Russian port city of Vladivostok, where she is standing in for President Barack Obama at the head of the US delegation to the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting.

‘We hope that the Congress will pass on this important piece of legislation this month,’ CNN quoted her as saying.

The Jackson-Vanik amendment was passed in 1974 as a way of pressuring Russia to allow Soviet Jews to emigrate. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, that was no longer an issue, but legislators kept the amendment on the books to pressure Russia on other issues.

The US has waived it every year since 1994, but it still violates World Trade Organisation rules requiring members of the body to give one another permanent normal trade relations.

Russia finally entered the WTO this summer, raising the stakes for the United States to end a measure that critics warn could end up costing it business.

Clinton also discussed the Jackson-Vanik amendment with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov over a working breakfast, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

‘She said that the Congress was going to start voting and that we have strongly pushed and been supportive, and we think that it's time for Jackson-Vanik to be repealed,’ Nuland said of Clinton.

The Obama administration had previously indicated its desire to lift the Jackson-Vanik amendment as part of its ‘reset’ of Washington's relations with Moscow.

And in an editorial in The Wall Street Journal in June, Clinton argued that leaving the amendment in place could hurt American interests. 

Ending Jackson-Vanik is not ‘a gift to Russia,’ Clinton wrote. ‘It is a smart, strategic investment in one of the fastest growing markets for U.S. goods and services.
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