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Congress moves to ban Russian energy imports and end friendly trade

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Congress moves to ban Russian energy imports and end friendly trade

A bipartisan group of lawmakers said on Monday they would move forward with legislation that would ban imports of Russian energy into the United States and suspend normal trade ties with Russia and Belarus in response to Ukraine’s invasion.

The legislation is intended to inflict more financial pain on Russia and Belarus, which are aiding the conflict by cutting Russia’s oil exports to the United States and giving President Biden the ability to raise tariffs on both countries’ products.

The bipartisan deal to cut oil imports added to mounting pressure on Mr Biden to close the spigot. Although the United States imports just 7 percent of its oil from Russia, the administration has so far refrained from banning imports, due to concerns that it would further exacerbate already high gas prices. Russia and Belarus are minor trading partners of the United States, although they supply some materials that are important to certain industries, including platinum, iron, and fertilizer.

On Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was considering imposing sanctions on Russian oil imports, which pushed oil prices higher.

The law would also require the Office of the United States Trade Representative to seek Russia’s suspension from the World Trade Organization and attempt to block Belarus’s attempt to join the global trade body. The lawmakers said the president would be empowered to restore normal trade relations with Russia and Belarus, subject to certain conditions.

Whether the law could pass Congress and bring it to Mr Biden’s table, but it has the backing of lawmakers in the House and Senate, including several powerful committee chairmen.

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The lawmakers said in a statement, “As Russia continues its unprovoked attacks on the Ukrainian people, we will seek a legislative route to ban imports of energy products from Russia and suspend normal trade relations with both Russia and Belarus.” agreed upon.”

Those supporting the bill include Republican Representative Kevin Brady of Texas; Representative Richard E. Neill, Democrat of Massachusetts; Republican Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho; and Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon.

House Democrats said on February 25 that they were introducing a bill to sever the permanent normal trade relationship with Russia, a move that would increase the average tariff the United States applies to Russian goods from about 3 percent to about 3 percent. will be 33 percent. Several other lawmakers have introduced legislation to remove trade preferences for Russia or Belarus, or to prohibit imports of Russian petroleum.

US trade with Russia is limited: Russia ranks 20th in 2019 in terms of global suppliers of goods to the United States, mainly sending fuel, platinum and other metals, iron, fertilizers and chemicals. Russia was the 40th largest export market to the United States that year, primarily buying machinery, aircraft, cars, and medical equipment.

Canada last week stripped Russia and Belarus of their most-favourite nation treatment, leaving those countries facing 35 percent tariffs for shipping products into Canada. The European Union and the United States are considering similar measures.

Congress has the authority to cancel preferential trading ties, but it is unclear whether the United States and Europe will be able to oust Russia from the WTO. The 164-member trade body is designed to act on consensus and usually requires approval from all of its members. A former WTO official, James Backus, has argued that the group has a way to do so if a majority of its members agree to change its charter.

The global trade body before the World Trade Organization, called the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, expelled Serbia and Montenegro in 1992 after the invasion of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Congress adopted normal trade with Serbia and Montenegro that same year. Ties canceled. But the system has not undergone a similar test since the formation of the WTO in 1995.

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