Biden set to reimpose Cold War trade restrictions on Russia

Biden also announced he was banning imports of Russian seafood, vodka and diamonds, which White House officials said collectively totaled more than $1 billion.

The Commerce Department also moved on Friday to cut Russia’s access to luxury goods, imposing restrictions on the export and re-export of American-made alcohol, jewelry, vehicles and apparel on all consumers in Russia and neighboring Belarus.

The sanctions will also be applied to some Russian and Belarusian oligarchs living around the world. Similar sanctions on luxury goods had previously only been imposed on North Korea, the agency said.

“We will not allow Putin and his cronies to continue to live in opulence while causing enormous suffering across Eastern Europe,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement. . “Today’s action takes away another source of comfort and reminds them that Russia is increasingly isolated.”

The United States and its allies will prevent Russia from obtaining new loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and will impose additional sanctions on Russian oligarchs, the White House has announced.

In two other areas, the United States will ban any new investment by American companies or individuals in the Russian economy and issue new guidelines aimed at preventing Russia from using cryptocurrencies to evade US financial sanctions, it said. Biden said.

Congress approved “permanent normal trade relations” with Russia in 2012, the same year that country joined the World Trade Organization. WTO rules require members to grant each other their most favorable tariff rates, known as “most favored nation” status.

“The joint action announced today will reverse the most-favoured-nation treatment given to Russian products by the world’s largest economies, depriving Russia of the benefits of membership in the World Trade Organization,” it said. US Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

Biden, who has already imposed sweeping financial sanctions and technology export controls on Russia, bowed to bipartisan pressure from Congress earlier this week and took the additional step of banning imports of Russian energy products.

Congress could vote on repealing the PNTR as early as next week, with the House expected to pass first as legislation affecting tariffs and other revenue measures is supposed to start there.

Leaders of major congressional trade committees in both houses have already agreed to a package of measures that includes revoking the PNTR, setting the stage for Congress to soon table a bill on Biden’s desk.

“We are working on a deal that the Senate can pass quickly,” said a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (DN.Y.).

Revoking the PNTR would complement the previous oil import ban by allowing Biden to ‘raise tariffs on nearly half of the imports that Russia sells to the United States,’ ranking member Finance Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) said.

The House was set to vote on Tuesday to remove Russia’s PNTR status, but withheld at Biden’s request. Biden thanked congressional leaders from both parties for moving the issue forward and praised the House speaker Nancy Pelosi for delaying a vote “until I can line up all of our key allies to keep us in complete unison”.

However, some House Republicans chastised Biden for waiting a few extra days. “I am pleased that President Biden has changed course and agreed to work with Congress to do more to revoke Russia’s special trade status,” House Ways and Means said. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said.

The coordinated action follows Canada’s recent decision to revoke most-favoured-nation trade status with Russia and calls by Ukrainian officials for all WTO members to end the status quo with Moscow.

The United States’ most-favoured-nation tariff rates were lowered in 1930, when Congress wanted to discourage imports of finished manufactured goods, but not the imports needed to manufacture those goods.

As a result, many non-MFN tariff rates on goods Russia exports to the United States are relatively low or even zero, said Ed Gresser, vice president of global trade and markets at the Progressive Policy Institute.

“Overall, revoking MFN status for Russia therefore imposes some penalties, but in most cases they are not very significant given Russia’s unusual export pattern,” Gresser said. “It may nonetheless be an appropriate symbolic and moral gesture, particularly if many WTO members join in.”

It could happen, according to a joint statement released by Biden and other G7 leaders. “We welcome the ongoing preparation of a statement by a broad coalition of WTO members, including the G7, announcing their revocation of Russia’s most favored nation status,” he said. declared.

Commerce Department figures show the United States imported $17.5 billion worth of petroleum products from Russia in 2021, nearly twice as much as in 2020, as the global economy rebounded from the pandemic and energy prices have risen.

Precious metals, iron and steel materials, iron and steel products, seafood, chemicals, nuclear fuels, bauxite and aluminum, and gem diamonds were the other main imports.

Russia was also the top foreign supplier of non-military spacecraft to the United States in 2021, accounting for $126 million of total imports of $263 million. The United States imported about $174 million worth of military equipment from Russia, including about $2.3 million worth of military aircraft and parts, according to Commerce data.

The top five US exports to Russia last year were civil aircraft, engines, equipment and parts ($881 million); auto parts ($563 million); pharmaceuticals ($336 million); telecommunications equipment ($325 million); and passenger cars ($298 million). U.S. exports to Russia totaled about $6.4 billion in 2021.

However, unlike the EU, which relies heavily on Russian energy imports, US-Russian trade is relatively small, totaling just $36 billion in 2021. US-China trade, by comparison, totaled over $650 billion. dollars last year.

Steven Overly and Burgess Everett contributed to this report.


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