Share This Page

Russian trade limits may end

| Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, 6:56 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Ending nearly 40 years of trade restrictions with Russia, the Senate voted on Thursday to approve a bill that will allow U.S. companies to expand business ties with the world's ninth-largest economy and its 140 million consumers.

The bill to grant permanent normal trade relations to Russia, which passed 92-4, now goes to President Obama, who said that he'll sign it.

Businesses lobbied hard for the legislation, saying it would allow them to cash in after Russia formally joined the World Trade Organization on Aug. 22.

American exports to Russia hit $11 billion last year. With passage of the bill, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and a top advocate of the legislation, predicted they will at least double within five years.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said all U.S. businesses will benefit because Russia now will be forced to lower its tariffs and allow more imports after joining the WTO.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the trade deal “includes only concessions by Russia,” since the United States is a member of the WTO.

The bill repeals a 1974 law authored by the late Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson, D-Wash., that restricted trade with the former Soviet Union because it was not allowing Jews to emigrate.

In its place, the Senate joined the House in approving the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, named in honor of a 37-year-old Russian tax lawyer who was arrested and tortured in prison for exposing the largest tax fraud in the country's history.

Besides normalizing trade with Russia, it would freeze the assets of individuals responsible for participating in Magnitsky's detention or of any others responsible for gross violations of human rights against whistle-blowers.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.