The US Congress wants to control Russia’s incorporation in the WTO
As PRAVDA.Ru supposed before, the initiative of US Congress members of the Democratic Party to cancel the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Constitution became possible only because of the fact that America made up another way of exerting influence on Russia. American congressmen want the US Congress to have a right to ratify the conditions for Russia’s incorporation in the World Trade Organization. The Russian government stated that such a stand would destroy the plans of the Russian Ministry for Economic Development and Trade to join the organization.
Senators Max Bacus and members of the House of Representatives, Charles Rangel and Sander Levin have recently stated that the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Constitution would be soon cancelled. However, they added that the US Congress was supposed to obtain the control over Russia’s incorporation in the WTO. This was the major condition for the cancellation of the amendment. In other words, in return to the abolishment of commercial restrictions between Russia and the USA, the American Congress wants to get the indisputable right to consider and reject the terms, on the ground of which Russia will join the WTO. The mentioned American politicians explained that with a necessity to protect the interests of American workers, farmers and businessmen.
We would like to remind here that the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Constitution was passed in 1974. The amendment had a goal to make the USSR provide free emigration to Jews in return to no trade sanctions on the part of the United States. This amendment is of symbolic significance nowadays, for the Congress freezes its validity every year.
Russian politicians were quite dissatisfied with the initiative of American democrats. An anonymous member of the Russian delegation to join the WTO said to the <i><b>Vedomosty</b></i> newspaper : “I am bewildered a lot. This is not a gift for Russia.” Indeed, the American Congress has never had an occasion, on which it would be given a right to ratify other countries’ conditions to join the World Trade Organization. However, the American Congress has made an attempt like that before, during China’s incorporation in the WTO. Yet, the reaction of the Chinese business-lobby in the USA turned out to be so strong and powerful, that it made American congressmen give it up. However, there is no pro-Russian business-lobby in the USA. Who is going to fight with impudent American congressmen then?
The interference of the US Congress in the process of Russia’s negotiations regarding its WTO membership is absolutely not desirable. Everything can be ruined in a moment. In addition to that, the interference of the American Congress might easily result in the fact that the United States will change its stand. Most likely, its stand will become even tougher. If it happens, Russia will not join the WTO this year, that’s for sure. Furthermore, the career of the Russian Minister for Economic Development and Trade, German Gref, will be ruined.
As a matter of fact, it just so happens that the members of the American Democratic Party made a very good gift to German Gref’s major opponent in Russia. This person is the aluminium oligarch, the head of the supervisory board of Basic Element holding, General Director of the giant company Russian Aluminium, Oleg Deripaska. Last summer Deripaska harshly criticized German Gref for his plans to join the World Trade Organization as soon as possible. The point of his criticism can be paraphrased as follows: “We have not divided everything here yet, so when we are through with it, we will think about the incorporation.” This argument caused a great deal of discussions in Russia. As it turned out, aluminium oligarch Deripaska had a lot of followers. It just seems strange that a Russian oligarch and American politicians had such a content on the issue of Russia's membership in the WTO. Oleg Deripaska experiences great problems with the export of his production (aluminium) to developed countries, including the USA. American politicians fear that Russia might ruin American farmers, workers and businessmen. It is really hard to believe the unselfishness of such consensus.
On the other hand, German Gref’s plans seem to carry tokens of illusion. No one has ever had any doubts about it, really. The negotiations regarding the WTO membership keep getting worse and worse. Vice Prime Minister of the Russian government Aleksey Kudrin came to participate in the negotiations at the end of the last year, but it did not lead to any progress anyway. In other words, Russia is going to become a WTO member, only when Russia says yes to all unfair conditions. On the other hand, it does not seem that the Russian government (as well as certain oligarchs) would be interested in the WTO membership in this case.
As far as the cancellation of the notorious amendment is concerned, George W. Bush promised Vladimir Putin that it would be cancelled. Furthermore, the majority of US Congress and Senate seats will most likely belong to Republicans soon. However, when the American presidential administration tried to convince the Congress of the need to cancel the unfortunate amendment last year, the Republicans did not wish to help the president. It was just the time, when the Russian Ministry for Agriculture introduced changes for the import of American poultry. The Congress perceived that as a hostile action and refused to cancel the Jackson-Vanik amendment. There is a hope, though, that George W. Bush will keep his promise now, when chicken and steel tariffs controversy is over to a certain extent. Russia’s loyalty would be good for Bush on the threshold of the military operation in Iraq.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov