Congress gave final approval on Thursday to suspend normal trade relations with Moscow, giving President Biden more leeway to impose tariffs on Russian goods and further weaken the Russian economy as punishment for invaded Ukraine.

The bill revokes Russia’s permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status. This is part of broad trade restrictions imposed in coordination with the European Union and Group of Seven countries.

“Today Congress took strong action to hold Russia accountable for its unprovoked and premeditated war against Ukraine,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California, said on Twitter. “By voting again to ban the import of Russian oil and suspend normal trade relations, the House sends to [President Biden’s] bureau of further measures to isolate Russia.

The measure ran into trouble in the Senate last month following a Republican push to combine the trade bill with a separate measure passed by the House to codify Mr. Biden’s ban on Russian oil. Earlier Thursday, the Senate passed the two bills separately, sending the new versions to the House for final passage.

“No nation whose military commits war crimes deserves free trade status with the United States,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, moments before vote.

The Senate’s final vote was also bound by objections from Sen. Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, to the bill’s language, which he says gives the president too broad sanctions power under the Global Magnitsky Act.

The Magnitsky Act is a law passed in 2016 to crack down on human rights abuses.

The House passed both bills by overwhelming margins. Petroleum Prohibition passed 413-9 and Commerce Bill passed 420-3.

The United States has previously taken steps to ban Russian energy imports, including petroleum and liquefied natural gas, as well as other products such as seafood and alcohol. The suspension of the PNTR promises to tighten the pressure on the Russian economy, even though the United States is not a major destination for Russian goods.

On Wednesday, Mr Biden announced a new round of financial sanctions against Russia that targeted the adult children of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The new sanctions were imposed after evidence of Russian war crimes surfaced in Bucha, near Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.

More than 600 Russian individuals and companies have been hit with sanctions since the war began, the White House said.

The measure targeting Russia’s trade relations status would impose higher tariffs on Russian products ranging from enriched uranium to crabs.

According to US trade data, Russian imports accounted for about 1% of imported foreign goods in 2021. Still, some US industries could be heavily impacted.

“For example, in 2021, certain titanium products (used by the aerospace industry) accounted for approximately 53% of total U.S. imports of similar products,” says a Congressional Research Services report. “Without the PNTR, the duty rate for these products would increase from 15% to 45%. Based on the dutiable value of these products in 2021, US importers would pay an additional $32.4 million in duties. »

• This story is based in part on Telegraph Service reports.

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