U.S. President Barack Obama intends to withdraw special privileges granted to Russia because the country is too economically advanced to need preferential treatment reserved for less developed countries, the White House has said.
Mr. Obama notified Congress that he intends to remove Russia from the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme as Moscow is “sufficiently advanced” to warrant any preferential treatment.
Once Russia’s eligibility is withdrawn, which would be effected via a presidential proclamation, U.S. imports of GSP-eligible goods from Russia will be subject to normal, non-preferential rates of duty, Mr. Obama in his notification said.
The purpose of the programme, which allowed $19.9 billion in imports to enter the U.S. duty-free in 2012, is to assist developing countries to use trade to boost their economic development, U.S. Trade Representatives (USTR) Mike Froman said.
“Russia has advanced beyond the level of economic development and competitiveness for GSP eligibility. As such, Russia should no longer qualify to receive GSP benefits,” he said in a statement.
“The President’s decision is consistent with the World Bank’s designation of Russia as a ‘high income country’ as well as actions by the European Union and Canada to remove Russia from similar programmes,” Mr. Froman said.
The U.S.-Russia relations have hit an all-time low since the Cold War following the unrest in Ukraine, which Washington says is being fuelled by Moscow.
The announcement comes on a day when Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country has pulled troops back from the Ukraine border. But the White House was sceptical of the claim.