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US House hearings on Russian trade not yet set for Fall session

10:58 22/08/2012

WASHINGTON, August 22 - RAPSI. The US House of Representatives has not yet set a date for hearings on the normalization of trade relations with Russia, and it is too early to know whether Congress will address the issue on September 12, RIA Novosti reported Wednesday.

The date for the hearings on normalizing trade relations with Russia has not yet been set and it is premature to talk of the U.S. House of Representatives considering the issue on September 12, a US congressman told RIA Novosti.

He added that the issue on trade with Russia may be put to the vote in September.

Earlier media reports suggested that the House of Representatives had planned to consider the issue on September 12.

On August 3, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) announced that the House of Representatives would discuss a draft law aiming to grant Russia normal treatment in trade and would vote on it in September if it received guarantees from the Senate that it would adopt it in the same month.

The House will take it up if the Senate and the U.S. President commit to support the passage in September, Cantor told journalists.

Previously, Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-Mi) said that the House of Representatives did not have enough time to consider the bills to withdraw the Jackson-Vanik amendment, crucial for normalizing trade relations with Russia, and to adopt the Magnitsky act before the presidential and congressional elections in November.

Congress sources told RIA Novosti in July that the House would not be able to consider the bills prior to the recess beginning in August. Speaker John Boehner (R-Oh) had to admit the same.

Levin believed the Republicans were just postponing the issue until the post-election period. He confirmed that the reason for the potential delay was the Republicans' failure to secure a sufficient number of supporters to combine both bills.

According to estimates, the withdrawal of the Jackson-Vanik amendment will allow the United States to double its exports to Russia by up to $19 billion within the next five years. The relevant bill was submitted by the committee head Dave Camp (R-Mi) and Levin.

Under the new act, the special envoy for trade will make an annual report to the committee on Russia's observation of its obligations as a WTO member. If the committee finds that Russia was unable to meet any of its requirements, the envoy will submit proposals to resolve the relevant issues.

Many representatives and senators are determined to use the need for the cancelling of trade restrictions so as to ensure a swift adoption of visa and financial sanctions against the Russian nationals who are believed to be involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, an auditor for Hermitage Capital Management investment fund, who passed away while being held in jail in 2009.

They have stated that they would support granting Russia normal trade regulations only in combination with passing the Magnitsky act.

The Jackson-Vanik amendment was adopted by Congress in 1974 and imposed restrictions on trade with the Soviet Union. The amendment was a response to the lack of the freedom to emigrate in the Soviet Union. At moment, the amendment is still formally valid, however, since 1989, the United States has annually placed a moratorium on it and the current administration has repeatedly promised to secure its official withdrawal.
The presidential and congressional elections will both be held on November 6.

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US House hearings on Russian trade not yet set for Fall session

10:58 22/08/2012 The US House of Representatives has not yet set a date for hearings on the normalization of trade relations with Russia, and it is too early to know whether Congress will address the issue on September 12.
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