Russian Upper House urges quick response to Jackson-Vanik

Russia’s Federation Council has suggested the government considers retaliatory economic measures if the US drags out the cancellation of the Jackson-Vanik amendment or leaves it in force.

­The recommendation was drawn up by a group of Senators, State Duma deputies and officials from the Foreign and the Economic Development Ministries as a result of a round table discussion on the prospects of the cancellation by the US of the amendment.

Senators also supported Russia’s stance not to apply WTO regulations in Moscow-Washington economic relations while the discriminatory economic regime remains in place. Russia will eventually join the WTO in July this year.

“US business circles realize perfectly well that if the amendment is not repealed, American companies won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of Russia’s accession to the WTO and will be at disadvantage compared to EU companies,” said Valery Shnyakin from the Federation Council’s International Committee.

The Jackson-Vanik amendment was introduced in 1974 and hedges trade relations with non-market economies which restricted emigration. Originally this dealt with countries of the Communist bloc, but the amendment still applies to Russia.

The participants of the meeting also pointed out that even if it is eventually repealed, there are many indications a new anti-Russian trade law could be adopted.

“Such proposals, instigated by Russian opposition, have been voiced in American political circles,” it was noted. “First, we are talking about the notorious Magnitsky list.” 

The list includes Russian officials who fall under a visa ban due to their alleged connection to the case of Sergey Magnistsky. The lawyer for Hermitage Capital Management Fund was arrested by Russian authorities on charges of alleged tax evasion, and died while in a Moscow pre-trial detention facility in 2009.

The Russian Federation Council suggests responding with adequate political steps. In the Senators’ opinion, these should include visa restrictions for some US officials and limitations for American legal entities financing Russian non-government organizations.

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