US Congress votes to end trade curbs on Russia

The US Congress voted on Thursday to end Cold War-era trade restrictions on Russia after it joined the WTO, but provoked Moscow’s ire by attaching a measure targeting human rights abusers.

Following approval by the House of Representatives last month, the Senate voted 92-4 in
favour of establishing permanent normal trade relations, or PNTR, with Russia by abolishing a 1974 law that required granting normal trade ties with Moscow only on an annual basis.

The legislation, which also grants PNTR to Moldova, now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

The repeal of the archaic legislation reflects Russia’s ascension to the World Trade Organisation, and US lawmakers noted that US businesses stands to gain if Washington grants PNTR to its former Cold War rival.

“This legislation marks a pivotal step forward in our relations with Russia and Moldova,” Republican Senator Orrin Hatch said in a statement immediately after the vote.

“Strengthening our bilateral trade relations with these nations will provide access to new markets for American businesses, farmers and ranchers, expand our economy here at home, and create much-needed jobs,” he added.

“At the same time, this measure includes strong enforcement tools to ensure Russia lives up to its international trade obligations.”

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