Biden says US, allies to revoke ‘most favored nation’ trade status for Russia

President Biden announced Friday that the United States and other Group of Seven (G-7) nations  would move to revoke the “most favored nation” trade status for Russia as part of a new tranche of penalties in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

In remarks from the Roosevelt Room, Biden said the coordinated move would deal “another crushing blow to the Russian economy.”

In the U.S., the move requires an act of Congress. Biden said Friday that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had “agreed to hold off” on a bill in the House ending normal trade relations with Russia until he could get U.S. allies behind a plan to do so together and signaled there was a bipartisan agreement to introduce legislation.

“Unity among our allies is critical important,” Biden said. 

The move will open the door to the U.S. and other countries imposing higher tariffs on Russian goods, which will further hamper the Russian economy.  

Biden thanked bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for their work on the issue.  

“The free world is coming together to confront Putin. Our two parties here at home are leading the way,” Biden said.  

“And with that bipartisan cooperation, I’m looking forward to signing into law the bill revoking PNTR,” Biden said, referring to the status of permanent normal trade relations.  

Pelosi said in a subsequent statement that the House would take up legislation to revoke Russia’s trading status when lawmakers return to Washington next week.  

Biden also announced that his administration would sanction more Russian oligarchs and boost coordination with G-7 countries to seize their assets.  

Additionally, Biden said that the G-7 would agree to deny Russia the ability to borrow from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.  

“Putin must pay the price,” Biden said. “He cannot pursue a war that threatens the very foundations — which he is doing — the very foundations of international peace and stability and then ask for financial help from the international community.” 

Finally, Biden plans to ban imports of Russian seafood, spirits and diamonds and prohibit the export of luxury goods to Russia by way of an executive order.

Biden made the announcement after a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Russia has targeted Kyiv and other cities and launched strikes on civilian areas, including a children’s hospital in Mariupol earlier this week.  

The G-7 issued a joint statement later Friday announcing the new measures and pledging to hold Putin accountable for starting an “unjustified and unprovoked war.”

“We the Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) remain resolved to stand with the Ukrainian people and government who heroically resist Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military aggression and war of choice against their sovereign nation,” the statement read.

“This unprovoked and unjustified attack is causing enormous suffering and a tragic loss of life, including through the increasingly indiscriminate bombing and shelling of civilians in schools, homes, and hospitals.”

The Biden administration has closely coordinated penalties on Russia with European allies, and Friday’s announcement was no exception.  

The U.S. and its allies have imposed sanctions on Russian banks and oligarchs and barred some of the banks from using the SWIFT international financial communication system. Earlier this week, Biden announced plans to ban U.S. imports of Russian energy as he faced bipartisan calls in Congress to do so. 

The U.S. has also imposed export controls meant to deny Russia key technology to support its defense, maritime and aerospace sectors. 

The Russian economy has taken a serious hit, with the ruble’s value declining considerably. 

Many large businesses have also suspended operations in Russia, further isolating the country over the military campaign against Ukraine.   

—Updated at 2:01 p.m.

Tags chemical weapons G-7 Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi Russia sanctions Ukraine Vladimir Putin

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