US President Obama sets to withdraw Russia from program of trade benefits


US President Barack Obama on Wednesday announced plans to pull Russia from a trade benefits program for developing countries. “I am providing notice of my intent to withdraw the designation of Russia as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program,” Obama wrote in an official letter to the US Congress.

“I have determined that it is appropriate to withdraw Russia’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under the GSP program because Russia is sufficiently advanced in economic development and improved in trade competitiveness that continued preferential treatment under the GSP is not warranted,” he said.

Despite the fact that Obama did not mention a direct link to Ukraine, the move comes amid the continuing standoff between Russia and the United States over Russia’s reunification with Crimea and US accusations of Russian involvement in the protracted political tensions in Ukraine.

The US imposed sanctions against Russian individuals and companies earlier this year. Commenting on the president’s announcement, the Office of the US Trade Representative said in a statement that “Russia should no longer qualify to receive GSP benefits.”

“The president’s decision is consistent with the World Bank’s designation of Russia as a a?high income country’ as well as actions by the European Union and Canada to remove Russia from similar programs,” the statement quoted United States Trade Representative Michael Froman as saying.

The US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories.

GSP was instituted on January 1, 1976, by the Trade Act of 1974. Legal authorization of the GSP program expired on July 31, 2013.

The US Congress is considering legislation that would extend the authorization of GSP beyond this date.


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