News / USA

House Passes Bill Normalizing Trade Relations With Russia

caption: A tombstone on the grave of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail, at a cemetery in Moscow, November 16, 2012.caption: A tombstone on the grave of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail, at a cemetery in Moscow, November 16, 2012.
x
caption: A tombstone on the grave of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail, at a cemetery in Moscow, November 16, 2012.
caption: A tombstone on the grave of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who died in jail, at a cemetery in Moscow, November 16, 2012.
The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed legislation - by a vote of 365 to 43 - allowing permanent, normal trade relations with Russia.

The legislation, which now goes to the U.S. Senate, provides American businesses access to Russia’s newly-opened markets as a result of Moscow’s recent membership in the World Trade Organization.

Representative Dan Burton [a Republican from Indiana] told his colleagues this law will help U.S. companies that have been at a disadvantage in competing with their European and Asian counterparts.

“In order to join the WTO” said Burton, “Russia has been required to make substantial reforms, to open its economy to international investment. These reforms include significant cuts on tariffs impacting manufactured goods and agricultural products, as well as a pledge to cut farm subsidies in half by 2018.”

In order to grant Russia permanent normal trade relations, the House had to repeal the so-called Jackson-Vanik amendment to the 1974 Trade Bill.

That amendment, said Russia expert Robert Legvold, “was passed back in the Soviet period when the Soviets were limiting, in fact at one point cut off, any Jewish emigration. And the Jackson-Vanik amendment denied most favorite treatment and other economic benefits so long as that was true.”

Anders Aslund, with the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said the Jackson-Vanik amendment is a relic of the Cold War.

“It was focused on the Soviet Union, which no longer exists,” said Aslund. “Russia has had free emigration ever since it became independent.  Russia and Israel have now visa-free travel between themselves. So it’s not at all relevant to its original purpose.”

While repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment, the House of Representatives added human rights provisions to the Russian trade legislation.

Representative Jim McGovern [a Democrat from Massachusetts] said the measures are named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who “died on November 16, 2009, after enduring torture and beatings while imprisoned for blowing the whistle on the largest tax fraud in Russian history. He did the right thing and he paid for it with his life at the hands of brutal and corrupt Russian officials.”

Representative Howard Berman [a Democrat from California] said the “Magnitsky provisions would place restrictions on the financial activities and travel of Russians connected to various human rights violations. The names of these human rights violators would be publicly available unless the administration determines that the individual must be placed on a classified list, he added.

The Russian government has strongly criticized the Magnitsky provisions, saying they would have to react if the legislation becomes law.  Russia, however, did not specify what those reactions would be.

The legislation now goes to the Senate for its consideration.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
November 17, 2012 9:15 AM
It was Mr Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, who was quick to declare that Russia would react “adequately” once Magnitsky provision was passed. It means that Mr Putin equates his personal opinion on Mr Magnitsky murder with that of the Russians, that the regime doesn’t admit any wrongdoing in such high profile case and wants to continue on, and dozens upon dozens unnamed low profile people keep dying in places of detention all over Russia while being under investigation.

by: Anonymous
November 17, 2012 12:09 AM
BIG MISTAKE...!!!
In Response

by: Almoros from: Cameroon
November 17, 2012 3:38 PM
Great step for better world! Bye bye the démodé policies for great world developments and everlasting peace!

by: messi from: uk
November 16, 2012 11:49 PM
I like the valuable info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. I’m quite sure I’ll learn many new stuff right here! Good luck for the next!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs