News Column

Obama Signs Trade Bill with Russia After Senate Repeals Antiquated Law

Dec. 16, 2012

US President Barack Obama signed into law Friday a bill to remove Cold War-era restrictions on trade with Russia and establish permanent normal trade relations with Moscow.

Congress's upper chamber earlier this month voted 92-4 to repeal the so-called Jackson-Vanik amendment, a 1974 measure that had been designed to punish the Soviet Union for its refusal to allow mass emigration of its citizens, particularly by Jews to Israel.

The US government had been granting waivers to Russia under the law for years. Repeal of the antiquated law was necessary to normalize trade relations after Russia joined the World Trade Organization this year.

Russia had said it would not open its markets to US goods as required under WTO rules until Washington repealed the law. The world's ninth-largest economy, Russia ranks 31st among US export markets.

The measure passed the lower House of Representatives last month by a 365-43 vote.

Obama said after the Senate passed the measure that the move would ensure that US businesses and workers were able to take full advantage of the WTO rules and market access commitments that the United States worked so hard to negotiate.

"We are also one step closer to realizing job-creating export opportunities and leveling the playing field for American workers, farmers, ranchers and service providers," Obama said at the time.

A provision added to the legislation in the House sanctions Russian officials suspected of involvement in human-rights violations. The provision will sanction Russian officials implicated in cases including the death of Sergei Magnitsky, an anti-corruption lawyer. Moscow has criticized the move.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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