US, allies to end normal trade relations with Russia

Beyond revoking trading privileges accorded to Russia, US President Joe Biden said Washington would also ban imports of its vodka, diamonds and seafood

The United States and its allies moved Friday to end normal trade relations with Russia, as President Joe Biden vowed the West would make Vladimir Putin “pay the price” for his invasion of Ukraine.

Biden announced the new step, which would enable Western nations to inflict steep tariff hikes on Moscow, in coordination with NATO allies, the Group of Seven and the European Union.

On the US side, lawmakers — who would have the final say — have already indicated they support stripping Russia of the preferential status that ensures equal treatment between international trade partners.

And in a statement issued in Berlin, G7 leaders confirmed they would each “endeavor” to take action to deny Russia favored trade status.

Putin “cannot pursue a war that threatens the very foundation of international peace and stability and then ask for help from the international community.”

Stripping Moscow of the designation, granted in December 2012, would allow Biden to impose steep tariffs on Russian goods or restrict imports.

The latest trade sanctions cap several rounds of measures intended to sever Russia’s economic and financial ties with the rest of the world over its invasion of Ukraine.

Together, the moves have already pushed Moscow to the brink of a debt default.

The steps have also caused prices for key commodities, like gasoline and wheat, to soar, harming US consumers already facing the highest inflation in four decades.

“US direct trade with Russia is relatively small, so higher tariffs would not do much damage to them but could raise costs for our manufacturers who rely on them for key raw materials,” said William Reinsch of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The United States imported just under $30 billion in goods from Russia last year, including $17.5 billion in crude oil.

The Washington-based crisis lender this week approved $1.4 billion in fast-disbursing aid for Ukraine, and the World Bank also released nearly $500 million of what is expected to be a $3 billion financing package to aid the war-wracked country.


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