© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at a Women’s History Month event “honoring Billie Jean King and women athletes in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Title IX”, at the United States Capitol building in Washington, U.S., March 9, 2
By Steve Holland and Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden said on Friday the G7 industrialized nations will revoke Russia’s “most favored nation” trade status, and announced a U.S. ban on Russian seafood, alcohol and diamonds, the latest steps to punish Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
The move would deliver “another crushing below” to Russia, as it continues its aggression in Ukraine, Biden said. President Vladimir Putin is an “aggressor, the aggressor,” Biden said, and he must “pay a price.”
He also said the United States would add new names to a list of Russian oligarchs who are sanctioned, and ban the export of luxury goods to Russia.
In a separate statement, the White House said Biden would ban U.S. investment in Russia beyond the energy sector, and that G7 nations would move to block Russia from funds from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
“Those are the latest steps we’re taking but they’re not the last steps we’re taking.” Biden said. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation”.
The coordinated moves by Washington, London and other allies come on top of a host of unprecedented sanctions, export controls and banking restrictions aimed at pressuring Putin to end the largest war in Europe since World War Two.
The moves have already caused the Russian economy to crater, and the IMF is now predicting that it will plunge into a “deep recession” this year.
The United States is expanding sanctions on Russia to include executives of sanctioned banks and Russian banker Yuri Kovalchuk, as well as Russian lawmakers.
“Russia cannot grossly violate international law and expect to benefit from being part of the international economic order,” the White House said in a statement.
CAVIAR, HEAVY METALS
Stripping Russia of its favored nation status paves the way for the United States and its allies to impose tariffs on a wide range of Russian goods, which would further ratchet up pressure on an economy that is already heading into a “deep recession.” [L5N2VE2S1]
Russia is among the world’s top exporters of oil, , , aluminum, palladium and other important commodities, and accounted for 1.9% of global trade in 2020. Since lesser sanctions were imposed in 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea, China has emerged as its biggest export destination.
In the United States, removing Russia’s “Permanent Normal Trade Relations” status will require an act of Congress, but lawmakers in both houses – and on both sides of the political aisle – have already signaled their support.
The White House will work with lawmakers on legislation to revoke Russia’s status, administration sources said.
In 2019, Russia was the 26th largest goods trading partner of the United States, with some $28 billion exchanged between the two countries, according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.
The ban of U.S. luxury exports to Russia and Belarus — including high-end watches, vehicles, clothes, alcohol and jewelry — takes effect immediately on Friday, the Commerce Department said in a separate statement as part of the effort to further isolate Moscow and its allies.
The United States imported $1.2 billion in Russian fish and shellfish in 2021, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, including sturgeon black caviar. America that year also imported from Russia $275 million worth of diamonds, and about $21 million in alcoholic beverages, according the Census Bureau.
Top imports from Russia included mineral fuels, precious metal and stone, iron and steel, fertilizers and inorganic chemicals, all goods that could face higher tariffs once Congress acts to revoke Russia’s favored nation trade status.
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