Political officials in the US are advancing discussions on a proposal to revoke Russia's most-favored nation trade status in a move that may significantly increase duties on US imports from Russia, including many metals products.
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"We are finalizing the details and process with the House [of Representatives] and White House for how a PNTR (permanent normal trade relations) repeal will move," a spokesperson for Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden told S&P Global Commodity Insights March 15, adding that more information would soon be available.
Wyden introduced legislation to the Senate Finance Committee March 8 that would suspend the US' normal trade relations with both Russia and Belarus, part of an ongoing series on economic sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine.
"Critically, the legislation explicitly provides that the ban would continue until Russia ceases its aggression, stops threatening our NATO allies and partners, and recognizes a free and independent Ukraine," Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo said in a statement March 9.
"Importantly, the legislation provides Congress the ability to overturn any attempt to lift the ban."
The US' permanent normal trade relations status is equivalent to the most-favored-nation trade status as defined by the World Trade Organization. Other G7 nations announced March 11 that they would follow the US in applying similar trade status revocations against Russia.
The US' Harmonized Tariff Schedule, compiled by the US International Trade Commission, outlines separate duty rates for favored trade partners (column 1 duties) and non-favored trade partners (column 2 duties). Non-favored trade partners currently include only North Korea and Cuba.
"Notwithstanding any other provision of law, beginning on the day after the date of the enactment of this act, the rates of duty set forth in column 2 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States shall apply to all products of the Russian Federation and of the Republic of Belarus," according to Wyden's legislation.
The president may also issue duty rate increases above the column 2 rates with prior approval from Congress, it adds.
For nonferrous metals, duties on US imports from Russia could be raised up to 18.5% for most unwrought aluminum, 100% for magnesium, 45% for cobalt and 20% for finished steel, according to the tariff schedule.
The final approved version of the bill could differ from the version originally introduced by Wyden.