On August 22, 2012, Russia is anticipated to officially join the World Trade Organization, which will lower trade barriers on Russian imports. This will have no affect on U.S.–Russian trade policy unless Congress terminates its Cold War-era restrictions against trade with the USSR, and this is precisely what is transpiring. Both the Democratic-led Senate Finance Committee and the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation to repeal the Jackson-Vanik Act of 1974 that denied the Soviet Union permanent normal trade relations status.
The bill passed by the House Ways and Means Committee was H.R. 6156, the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal Act of 2012. Eager to sell the very rope with which the communists will hang the capitalists, U.S. business leaders are selling H.R. 6156 as an attempt to create American jobs and strengthen the economy. “If Congress fails to act this summer, it will have missed an immediate opportunity to support the U.S. economy and American jobs,” said Doug Oberhelam, chairman of the Business Roundtable’s international engagement committee and the chairman of Caterpillar Inc., according to the Associated Press.
Although the repeal measures have passed both committees they have yet to reach the floor of either chamber, and it remains to be seen whether they will receive a vote before Congress convenes for the summer in August. Voters can expect the Obama Administration and reelection campaign to make an issue in support of repealing the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Act under the guise of supporting “the U.S. economy and American jobs,” as Oberhelam advocated. Repealing the 1974 Jackson-Vanik Act would be consistent with President Obama’s “reset” policy and second term “flexibility” with Russia.
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Photo: The Pyotr Velikiy, Peter the Great, Russian nuclear-powered missile cruiser seen in the Barents Sea, Russia, , Russia, in this October, 2001 file photo: AP Images