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WASHINGTON, March 13 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and granting it the status of a permanent normal trade partner of the United States is “a gift” not for Russia, but for US farmers, manufacturers and workers, US ambassador in Moscow Michael McFaul expressed this view, speaking at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington on the issue “Russia after the Presidential Election: What It Means for the United States.”
He stressed that without the repeal of the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment the United States will give up its positions in Russia in favour of its competitors. The ambassador also pointed out that this issue has nothing to do with the matters on which the United States and Russia continue to disagree. Among them he mentioned the situation around Syria, defence issues and the pace of democratisation in Russia. However, in his opinion, this should not prevent cooperation in other spheres, where interaction meets the interests of both parties, especially in the economy and trade.
Asked about the possibility of the adoption by the US Congress of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act in connection with Russia’s entry into WTO and the expected repeal of the discriminatory Jackson-Vanik amendment, McFaul said that the US administration does not believe in linking unrelated issues. The diplomat said that getting rid of this legislative anachronism is a “top priority” of the US foreign policy this year. If this problem remains unsolved, then, he said, American companies will lose very much in Russia, and it will take them about 10 years to make up for lost time.
Ambassador McFaul arrived at his current posting in January. Until then, he served as senior director for Russia and Eurasia at the National Security Council and special assistant to the President from January 2009.
Asked by Itar-Tass what other priorities the ambassador sees in US-Russian relations this year, in addition to abolishing the Jackson-Vanik amendment, Michael McFaul named the issues of missile defence, Iran and Syria.