WASHINGTON, April 12 (Itar-Tass) — The US Congress members are increasingly realising that it is necessary to repeal the discriminatory Jackson-Vanik amendment before Russia’s entry in the World Trade Organisation (WTO), head of the US-Russia Business Council (USRBC), which represents the interests of the US major companies, said in an interview with Itar-Tass on Wednesday.
He said that in his view, it is possible to settle this issue before the Congress leaves for the summer parliamentary recess. He believes that the necessary number of votes could be secured.
Verona said that Russia will become a full-fledged member of the WTO in August 2012, and if the US Congress does not repeal the notorious amendment by this time, American companies will not be able to enjoy all the privileges and conditions that will be given to other WTO members on the Russian market.
The USRBC head admitted that he has no information about when a bill repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment to Russia and spreading to it the permanent normal trade relations with the United States could be introduced at the US Congress. “But I know that there is growing awareness in the Congress of the need to do something before Russia officially becomes a WTO member,” Verona said.
An informed source on Capitol Hill told Itar-Tass earlier that members of the US Congress are not very enthusiastic about repealing the Jackson-Vanik amendment because of disagreements with Moscow on Syria and other issues, particularly on human rights. However, the USRBC head said in this connection that he has not heard any serious arguments from the US Congressmen and Senators against the amendment’s repeal. As for the proposal of some legislators to link this issue with the adoption of the so-called “Magnitsky Act” the proclaimed goal of which is the protection of human rights and democracy in Russia, Verona said that as the USRBC head, he is most concerned about the Jackson-Vanik amendment repeal.
Earlier, the US Congress began a debate on the full and final normalisation of trade and economic relations with Russia in light of its WTO accession. For the full normalisation of trade relations with Russia, the US Congress should repeal the discriminatory Jackson-Vanik amendment - a relic of the Cold War that once linked trade-related issues with the freedom of emigration from the USSR.