WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will announce Friday that, along with the European Union and Group of Seven countries, the United States will take steps to revoke “most favored nation” trade status for Russia following a his invasion of Ukraine.
That’s according to a source familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the announcement. The person said each country should follow its own national processes. Removing most-favoured-nation status from Russia would allow the United States and its allies to impose higher tariffs on certain Russian imports, increasing the isolation of the Russian economy in retaliation for the invasion.
Biden’s decision comes as bipartisan pressure builds in Washington to revoke what is officially known as “permanent normal commercial relations” with Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the United States and its allies to take action against Russia in remarks to Congress over the weekend. It comes days after Biden moved to ban imports of Russian oil and gas products.
Biden, after initially slowing congressional efforts to take trade action against Russia, was expected to embrace lawmakers’ efforts to do just that on Friday.
The White House said Biden would speak Friday morning to announce “actions to continue to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and unwarranted war against Ukraine.”
Sanctions on Russian oil, gas and coal imports have cut off about 60% of US imports from the country.
Most-favoured-nation status obliges a country to treat all countries with this status equally. Members of the World Trade Organization share this status, although some countries have special privileges due to their status as developing economies.
Cuba and North Korea do not have MFN status.
U.S. tariffs on Russian goods vary, but many of the larger imports are either duty-free or face negligible increases in those taxes, Ed Gresser of the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, DC, said in a post. in line.
This includes imports of uranium, rhodium and palladium, king crabs and silver bullion.
Instead of the current tariff rate, buyers of Russian goods would pay rates established under the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, which disrupted trade during the Great Depression.
Duties would increase from zero to 30% for certain types of ammunition and 10% for certain types of diamonds.
On Monday, Democrats on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee published, then deleted, an announcement on a bipartisan bill to ban imports of Russian oil and impose new trade sanctions on the country, according to an aide, due to the White House’s pushback against acting before Biden had coordinated with allies and made a decision on both issues. The House voted Wednesday on a narrower bill to ban Russian energy imports after Biden instituted the ban by executive order.
Canada was the first major U.S. ally to revoke most-favoured-nation status from Russia last week.
Biden’s action was first reported by Bloomberg News.
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