Friday, July 25, 2014


Russia

Obama To End Special Trade Benefits For Russia

U.S. President Barack Obama notified the U.S. Congress on May 7 that he intends to withdraw Russia's access to the Generalized System of Preferences program, which exempts eligible countries from tariffs on certain goods.
U.S. President Barack Obama notified the U.S. Congress on May 7 that he intends to withdraw Russia's access to the Generalized System of Preferences program, which exempts eligible countries from tariffs on certain goods.
By RFE/RL
U.S. President Barack Obama plans to halt Russia's eligibility for trade benefits under a program that assists developing countries.

The move comes as Washington seeks to punish Russia over its annexation of Crimea and for its role in destabilizing eastern and southern Ukraine.

Obama notified the U.S. Congress on May 7 that he intends to withdraw Russia's access to the Generalized System of Preferences program, which exempts eligible countries from tariffs on certain goods.

Russia was the program's ninth-largest beneficiary last year, with tariffs discounted on $296 million worth of goods that Russia sent to the United States.

The White House said in a statement that Obama's decision was made becasue the "sufficiently advanced" state of Russia's economy means that it "no longer warrants preferential treatment reserved for less advanced developing countries."

The White House statement did not specifically mention Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean penninsula or Russian activity in southern and eastern Ukraine.

But White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said those events in Ukraine made the timing of the decision suitable.

“Russia’s actions regarding Ukraine, while not directly related to the president’s decision regarding Russia’s eligibility for GSP benefits, make it particularly appropriate to take this step now,” Hayden told RFE/RL.

Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March, the Obama administration levied visa bans and asset freezes against senior Russian officials and wealthy businessmen that are close to Putin, as well several private companies.

Obama also has said his administration is preparing potential sanctions that would target specific sectors of the Russian economy for what the United States says are moves by Russia to destabilize eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian militias are battling forces dispatched by the pro-Western government in Kyiv.

U.S. sanctions also have been accompanied by quieter moves by the Obama administration that could impact Russian businesses.

For example, the United States has suspended negotiations with Russia on a U.S. banking transparency law that would subject Russian financial institutions to a 30 percent surcharge on certain payments from the United States if they do not disclose information about U.S. account holders in Russia.

Meanwhile, senior U.S. officials have been urging top executives from major U.S. companies not to attend an economic forum in St. Petersburg, Russia, later this month.

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