House Set to Pass Russia Trade Bill Friday


WASHINGTON (Dow Jones) — House lawmakers are set to approve a bill this week that would normalize trade relations with Russia, but a disagreement with the Senate over how broad a human rights provision in the legislation should be applied could still hold up its final passage.


The vote in the House is expected Friday. It would permanently scrap Cold War- era trade restrictions on Russia. It would also apply travel restrictions to and freeze U.S. assets of individuals in Russia that are seen as being human rights abusers.


While there is general agreement in the Senate that finalizing the legislation before the end of the year is a priority, some Democrats want to expand the same human rights sanctions on a global basis.


“I'd like to get it done, I'm for getting it done,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D., Md.), one of the authors of the human rights provisions in the Senate. “I'd like to see it global because there's a chance to really make a statement.”


Senior Democratic aides said they expected that ultimately the difference would be resolved and the legislation would be sent to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature before the end of the year.


The bill would permanently repeal the Jackson-Vanik provisions, which apply trade restrictions to countries that make it difficult for residents to emigrate. It was initially put in place at the height of the Cold War. For the last two decades, Congress has acted to freeze the restrictions annually.


Russia joined the World Trade Organization in August, a move which requires the repeal of the legislation. If the U.S. fails to do so, American exporters could be placed at a competitive disadvantage to companies from other countries trying to sell goods to the Russian market.


Repealing Jackson-Vanik is a top trade priority of the Obama administration, which initially opposed the inclusion of the human rights language to the bill out of fear it could spark repercussions from Moscow.



Source:  Dow Jones

Posted by Haylie Shipp



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