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Russia-US-Trade 02-21

5. Russia

Trade restrictions could end

The chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee said today he would call for the removal of Russia from the 1974 Jackson-Vanik amendment, which has restricted bilateral trade and remained a key irritant in relations between Moscow and Washington.

"It’s time to put behind us this relic of the Cold War," Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., said at a news conference. "I will spare no effort to bring this about, and I have every expectation that I will be successful."

Moscow has long urged the United States to abolish the Jackson-Vanik amendment tying Russia’s trade status to whether it freely allows Jewish emigration. President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials and lawmakers long have criticized Washington for failing to repeal the legislation, saying the refusal to do so undermined trust between the two nations.

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The abolition of the amendment is necessary for the United States to trade freely with Russia once it finalizes its bid to join the World Trade Organization. Andrew Somers, head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow, hailed Lantos’ statement. "It’s an extremely positive statement from the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee. It’s a major step forward in U.S.-Russia relations and will put an end to this anachronistic piece of legislation."

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