The U.S. White House administration begins talks with the Congress on the abolishment of the Jackson-Vanik amendment in regard to Russia, U.S. President Barack Obama said.
Obama met on Sunday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on the sidelines of the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, held in the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu on November 12-13.
The U.S. president said at a news conference after the meeting that the abolishment of the controversial amendment will offer broad possibilities for U.S. companies and business circles to enjoy opportunities granted by Russia’s membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The controversial Jackson-Vanik Amendment on restricting trade with the Soviet Union, which the U.S. Congress had adopted in 1974 to pressure the USSR into allowing emigration, is still applied to Russia, and has proved a key barrier for the country's entry to the WTO.
President Medvedev thanked Obama and his administration for the support of Russian efforts to join the WTO.
“First of all, I want to thank Barack Obama and his team for the active support of the Russian Federation’s efforts to join the WTO,” he said.
Russia has been in membership talks with the 153-nation WTO for 17 years and remains the only major economy still outside the organization. Earlier this week Russia completed all talks and is expected to become the organization’s full-fledged member by next summer.
“Moreover, there was no such support from the American administration ever before and that is probably why we [Russia] has been seeking membership in this organization since 1993,” Medvedev said.
The U.S. administration only once tried to cancel the Jackson-Vanik amendment - in 2002, when President George Bush asked Congress to do so, but soon after this Russia banned U.S. poultry imports ending parliamentary discussion of the issue.