On March 11, 2022, President Biden called on Congress to pass legislation that will revoke normal trade relations (NTR) with Russia, and announced that the administration “will work closely with Congress to deny Russia the benefits of its WTO membership and ensure that Russian imports do not receive most favored nation treatment” in the U.S. economy. Several bills aimed at revoking NTR with Russia and/or Belarus have been introduced in Congress during the last two weeks. These include the No Most Favored Nation Trading with Russia Act, No Trading with Invaders Act, and another bipartisan bill suspending NTR with Russia and Belarus (text of the bill is not available).
NTR refers to nondiscriminatory treatment of imports from a country, consistent with the WTO rules. Currently, only two countries – Cuba and North Korea – do not have NTR status. Permanent NTR status was granted to Russia in 2012 following the passage of the Russia and Moldova Jackson-Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (“Magnitsky Act”) and Russia’s accession to the WTO. In practice, revocation of NTR status for Russia and Belarus will mean that the imports from these countries will not benefit from non-discriminatory treatment, and be subject to the higher rates of duty under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) set forth in column 2 of the HTSUS.