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

    Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.