Barack Obama stated during his visit to Moscow that lifting the notorious Jackson-Vanik amendment would be one of the biggest priorities of his administration, Itar-Tass news agency reports.
“US President Barack Obama acknowledged that it was the problem of the US administration. He said that lifting the amendment would be one of the priorities of his administration,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
Making a speech at the US-Russian Business Forum, Obama acknowledged that billions of dollars had been lost in the trade with Russia just because the US laws had not been renewed.
“We want Russia to be selling us goods, and we want Russia to be buying from us,” Obama said. "Our fortunes are linked, and yet so much potential remains untapped.”
Annual trade between the countries totals $36 billion, which is about 1 percent of U.S. trade with the rest of the world. The percentage has remained “virtually unchanged since the Cold War,” Obama said. “That $36 billion is about the same as our trade with Thailand, a country with less than half the population of Russia . Surely we can do better.”
“We have to promote transparency, accountability [and] rule of law, on which investments and economic growth depend,” Obama said. “And so I welcome very much President Medvedev’s initiatives to promote the rule of law and ensure a mature and effective legal system as a condition for sustained economic growth," Obama said.
Obama and Medvedev did not conceal the problems connected with the deployment of the US missile defense system in Eastern Europe.
“We heard only one thing from the United States: all decisions have been made, and they don’t touch upon you. Our position is different. We believe that those decisions do touch upon Russia,” Dmitry Medvedev said after the talks with Barack Obama in the Kremlin.
As for other agreements, Russia agreed to open its airspace for US planes flying to Afghanistan. In addition, military officials of the two countries signed a new agreement on cooperation. It goes about the forms of cooperation, which were interrupted after the war in South Ossetia.
As for the Jackson-Vanik agreement, the question remains open. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said July 7 that the new US administration would do everything to cancel the amendment. However, there is no guarantee that it will happen some day.
The USA approved the amendment in 1974 to cut its trade with the USSR over the decision of the Soviet government to restrict the emigration of Jews from the USSR. The amendment continues to exist many years after the collapse of the USSR.
Has Obama really pushed the reset button?
“It is a good start. The top level talks have begun – many people in the United States and in Russia were dreaming about that for years. The agreement about the number of nuclear warheads and the transit of US cargoes to Afghanistan is obviously a very important achievement. However, many things still remain unsolved, particularly the missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic,” a senior spokesman for the Institute for the USA and Canada, Anatoly Utkin told Pravda.Ru.
It is impossible to rest the relations during a couple of days. The talks were conducted in the friendly atmosphere, which is extremely important.