The economic barriers for Russia in the USA are soon going to be removed. This was promised by US Secretary of State Colin Powell on December 10 to the Russian parliamentarians during a meeting with them in the State Duma.
One of the most serious barriers is the amendment to the 1974 law about commerce. The amendment considerably restricted the trade with the USSR in connection with “the violation of the rights of Jews.” This “cold war” rudiment, which was passed under the pretext of the absence of free emigration in the former USSR, is still restricting Russia. This regulation is also contradictory to the Russian-American agreement on commercial relations between the countries that was concluded in 1990: the income from trade with the USA is minimized even if Russia joins the WTO. Washington changed that amendment only towards the republics of Georgia and Kyrgyzstan, the countries that have demonstrated their loyalty to the interests of the United States.
The secretary of state also made some statements on the political aspects of the relations between both countries. He expressed his opinions for cooperation with the USA and Russia in all directions, including Afghanistan. He said that the American President George Bush “was personally pressing for the removal of the American red tape for Russia, even from the point of view of strategic cooperation: Bush stands for the quick reduction of Russia’s and the USA’s nuclear potential.” Speaking about further relations between Russia and USA, Powell said that he stood for “20” – the format that will give Russia a voting right together with the other 19 members of NATO. However, the statements pertaining to the issues of the economic links between Russia and the USA received the most of attention.
The head of the American foreign department answered those deputies who wished to know when the unfortunate amendment will be cancelled that the committee for commerce is dealing with it and that the issue would be solved soon.”
The second most important question was about the acknowledgement of the status of the Russian economy in the USA and the observation of the standard conditions for Russia to join the WTO. Powell said in that respect that those questions were being considered and “would be solved positively.”
The Russian administration has spent a lot of its energy as far as the mentioned amendment is concerned. Boris Yeltsin tried to convince George Bush, then Bill Clinton. However, the positive trend in the field was frozen. A new incentive was given to it when Vladimir Putin became the president of Russia. At the meeting with Condoleezza Rice and other American top officials, Putin called upon the American administration to cancel the action of the amendment, “which did not reflect the real state of things, discriminating the Russian producers.” Putin asked them to acknowledge Russia as a country with the status of a market economy. At that time, the observers noticed that the position of the majority of top American officials demonstrated a certain incompliance regarding the question of the cancellation of the amendment. Richard Pearl, in particular, said to the newspaper Izvestia, that the amendment did not have any influence on anything and that it was protecting the people’s rights for freedom of migration: “I am not among those who think it should be cancelled, but I do think that it will never become actual again, for the system against which it was aimed at will never be born again.”
However, one should realize that the apple of discord between the development of the Russian-American relations was the plans pertaining to the creation of the anti-missile defense system that were initiated by the new American administration. The grand commotion between Moscow and Washington was gathering pace when the events of September 11 happened. Russia was forced to agree with America’s ABM plans and the new American administration does not mind having another ally in the struggle with al-Qaeda terrorists.
On November 16 of the current year, during the Russian-American summit in the USA, Colin Powell informed the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Igor Ivanov, about Washington's plans to promote the legislative initiative concerning the cancellation of the mentioned amendment.
Like experts say, Russia’s firm and stable position towards the United States as a country that supports the USA in its anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan makes America give something back to the new ally. So, today’s statement from Colin Powell is another step towards the improvement of the Russian-American relations.
Andrey Ivochkin PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov