Will US Congress Lift Jackson-Vanik Amendment?

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The United States of America today underlined that it’s in US interest to graduate Russia from Jackson-Vanik.

The United States’ trade relationship with Russia is tied to a provision of U.S. trade law (the Jackson-Vanik amendment) enacted in the 1970s to condition normal trade relations (NTR) status on the then-Soviet Union’s willingness to let Jews emigrate freely.

On his remarks on “Putin’s return: The Political and Commercial Implications for America,” Assistant Secretary Philip H. Gordon for Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs said Jackson-Vanik should be lifted simply unrelated to anything else because it’s in US interest, at the same time strongly supports the goals of the Cardin legislation.

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Presidents Bush and Putin at the 33rd G8 summit, June 2007.

“We have been very active on democracy on human rights, we will continue to be active on democracy and human rights, but the bottom line on the question of Jackson-Vanik: it is in our interest to graduate Russia as soon as possible.” -Mr. Gordon

Mr. Gordon says Obama administration have tried to approach the issue of Russia in general.

“The relationship was strained when the President took office, which he regretted, and thought was not in the U.S. interest because we have so many potential areas of common interest with Russia, whether that’s in the economic area or nonproliferation or counterterrorism.” -Mr. Gordon

President Obama has been looking of areas of common interest, try to reach practical, real substantive agreements while also being very clear that there would be things we would disagree on and we wouldn’t sweep them under the carpet as we pursued these things, Mr. Gordon added.

Both countries have accomplished numerous thing particularly the New START Treaty or cooperation on Afghanistan which has been very significant to their efforts; or the 123 Nuclear Agreement on civil nuclear cooperation; Russian support on North Korea; and, particularly Iran.

Both countries have been working very hard, in US own interest, to reach an agreement that would benefit the two countries.

“So that, after 20 years of trying, both in the United States and in Russia, we think is a major accomplishment and very consistent with what I described as our overall effort with Russia.” -Mr. Gordon

He stresses that having reached this agreement to bring Russia into the WTO it is US interest to graduate Russia from Jackson-Vanik so that their firms will benefit.

He underlines that President Obama especially in this tough economic climate is determined to do everything he can for American firms and American exports.

“Were we to fail to graduate Russia from Jackson-Vanik right now, we would be disadvantaging American companies, without costing Russia anything.” -Mr. Gordon

It’s not in that sense at all a gift to Russia, it is in the fundamentally economic and security interest of the United States, Mr. Gordon highlighted.

He notes that some of the opposition figures in Russia who have said the same thing.

The statement they put out last week said that leaving Jackson-Vanik on the books as it is and keeping it applying to Russia would “not be helpful in any way”, and we think that’s right: it would not be helpful in any way, Mr. Gordon stressed.

“So, very straightforward and clear, it’s in our interest to graduate Russia from Jackson-Vanik.” -Mr. Gordon

Mr. Gordon emphasizes that the US government has pursued better relationship with Russia and concrete agreements with Russia.

The United States has been very clear about the importance of democracy, human rights, and civil society in US foreign policy.

“From the start we’ve said, the President said that even as we pursue these concrete agreements we will be clear when Russia is doing things that we don’t believe are in our interest or that we disagree with.” -Mr. Gordon

Mr. Gordon stresses that on some of the specific measures in the Magnitsky Bill that has been referred to, which is sometimes linked to the question of lifting Jackson-Vanik, the United States has also been very clear that it is the policy of the United States to deny visas to people guilty of serious human rights violations.

Jackson-Vanik has long since fulfilled its purpose: each year since 1994, consecutive U.S. Administrations – both Republican and Democrat – have found Russia in compliance with Jackson-Vanik. Nevertheless, to fully access Russia’s WTO commitments, the U.S. Congress must graduate Russia from the amendment and make Russia’s NTR status permanent.

Russia is reportedly will join the World Trade Organization (WTO) by mid-summer.

Russia’s membership in the world’s largest rules-based trading system is said to provide tangible benefits to Russia as well as for U.S. businesses.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.