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US: Parliament votes to oust Russia’s ‘privileged trading partner’ status

The US House of Representatives, lower house of Congress, voted almost unanimously to downgrade the country’s trade relations with Russia, stripping Moscow of its “privileged trading partner” status, in a move that would allow Washington to significantly increase tariffs on imports of Russian products.

The bill passed with 424 votes in favor and 8 against and is now directed to the Senate, the upper house of Congress. It puts an end to US “permanently normal trade relations” with Russia, putting the latter in a category similar to that of the United States, North Korea and Cuba. The bill has the support of US President Joe Biden, who will ratify it in law when approved by the other body of the US Parliament. The tariffs that Washington will now be able to impose on Russian goods will be much higher than those for the rest of the World Trade Organization (WTO) countries.

Senate Majority Leader Democrat Sen. Chuck Sumer said the House would approve the bill quickly, sending it to Biden for signature. Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, Sumer said, are united in the position that a strong message should be sent to Vladimir Putin.

Belarus, which is also included in the bill, will be treated similarly to Russia after allowing Russian troops to use its territory to attack Ukraine.

“This very important legislative act will send a message to Putin,” Indiana-born Republican MP Spartan-elected Victoria Spartz was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

Eight Republican lawmakers, including prominent supporters of Donald Trump, such as Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Green, voted against the bill.

About 5% of Russia’s exports in 2020 were targeted at the United States, according to the International Monetary Fund.

By mid-March 2022, about 25 percent of the WTO’s 164 members, which account for about 58 percent of world GDP, had agreed to deprive Russia of its “privileged trading partner” status.

In addition to the US, these are the 27 member states of the European Union, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, South Korea and Australia.

Source: Capital

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