USTR’s Kirk, Rep. Camp Call For Russia Trade Bill Without Human Rights

Wall Street Journal

Obama administration officials and a key House Republican Wednesday issued a similar message to Congress on the urgency of lifting trade restrictions on Russia, saying the bill should be passed quickly and without including human rights or other provisions.

However, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means committee said the so-called “Magnitsky” bill punishing Russian human-rights violators should be included in any trade legislation, while arguing that the House should hold up on approving the bill until Russia takes steps to help contain the conflict in Syria.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told the House panel that lawmakers should act by Aug. 22 or risk putting U.S. companies at a competitive disadvantage when Russia formally joins the World Trade Organization by that date.

“Our priority is for Congress to terminate the Cold-War era Jackson-Vanik amendment as it applies to Russia in a clean bill that enables us to maintain our competitive edge,” Mr. Kirk said in prepared remarks at the hearing. Repealing Jackson-Vanik, a 1974 measure that prevents the U.S. from granting most-favored-nation status to countries that restrict emigration, won’t be a “gift” to Russia, he insisted.

Mr. Kirk’s comments were echoed by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R., Mich.), who has also called for a stand-alone trade bill, but has signaled an openness to consider human-rights legislation on a parallel basis.

“Legislation granting Russia (permanent, normal trade relations) should be clean and targeted, or else the legislation could be unduly complicated and delayed,” said Mr. Camp in opening the hearing.

Concerns about human rights violations and other foreign-policy concerns in Russia have complicated efforts to pass legislation by the August recess–a top trade priority of the Obama administration.

Trade committees in the House and Senate are both holding hearings on Russia this week, but appear to be taking different paths. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) has announced plans to try to incorporate the Magnitsky legislation in the trade bill.

During the House hearing, Rep. Sander Levin (D., Mich.), the ranking Democrat, said the human-rights measures should be included in the trade bill. Once the committee approves the bill, the House should hold off on a floor vote until Russia joins in “steps to address” the widening conflict in Syria, he said.

Deputy Secretary of State William Burns sought to assure lawmakers that the administration shares their “serious concerns” about human rights in Russia, including by denying visas to violators like those involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who died in a Russian prison in 2009 after accusing government officials of fraud.

“Refusing to lift Jackson-Vanik and extend PNTR gives America no leverage over Russia in the areas where we differ,” he said. “This is why leaders of Russia’s political opposition have called on the U.S. to terminate Jackson-Vanik, notwithstanding their concerns about human rights and the Magnitsky case–concerns which we share.” займ на карту микрозайм онлайн https://zp-pdl.com/best-payday-loans.php zp-pdl.com онлайн займ

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