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June 2012

Bill for normal trade with Russia meets opposition

Associated Press

A Senate plan to lift Cold War restrictions on trade with Russia drew immediate resistance from Senate Republicans who said Congress must first address Russia’s poor human rights record and existing economic and political policies.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., on Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation to normalize trade relations with Russia by repealing the 1974 Jackson-Vanik act that tied trade with the then-Soviet Union to Moscow’s allowing Jews and other minorities to leave the country.

The repeal of Jackson-Vanik is necessary if U.S. businesses are to enjoy the lower tariffs and increased access to Russian markets that will become available when Russia joins the World Trade Organization this summer. Supporters of normalized trade said it could lead to a doubling of U.S. exports to Russia.

“Jackson-Vanik served its purpose during the Cold War, but it’s a relic of another era that now stands in the way of our farmers, ranchers and businesses pursuing opportunities to grow and create jobs,” Baucus said in a statement.

Baucus was joined in sponsoring the bill by Senate Foriegn Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., and Republicans John McCain of Arizona and John Thune of South Dakota.

But eight Finance Committee Republicans, led by ranking Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah, wrote a letter to Baucus saying that Congress cannot ignore ongoing issues with Russia in moving to normalize trade relations.

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