Washington: US President Joe Biden said on Friday the G7 industrialised nations will revoke Russia's "most favoured nation" trade status, and announced a U.S. ban on Russian seafood, alcohol and diamonds, the latest steps to punish Moscow over the war in Ukraine.
The move would deliver "another crushing blow" to Russia, Biden said. President Vladimir Putin is an "aggressor, the aggressor," Biden said, and he must "pay a price." He also said the United States would add new names to a list of Russian oligarchs who are sanctioned, and ban the export of luxury goods to Russia.
"Those are the latest steps we're taking but they're not the last steps we're taking." Biden said. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation".
Stripping Russia of its favoured nation status paves the way for the United States and its allies to impose tariffs on a wide range of Russian goods, which would further ratchet up pressure on the economy. The coordinated moves by Washington, London and other allies come on top of a host of unprecedented sanctions, export controls and banking restrictions aimed at pressuring Putin to end the largest war in Europe since World War Two.
Each country must implement the change in Russia's trading status based on its own national processes, administration sources said.
In the United States, removing Russia's "Permanent Normal Trade Relations" status will require an act of Congress, but lawmakers in both houses - and on both sides of the political aisle - have already signaled their support.
The White House will work with lawmakers on legislation to revoke Russia's status, administration sources said.
Unprecedented, sweeping sanctions slapped on Russia's banks and elites, along with export controls on a raft of technologies, have already caused the Russian economy to crater, and the International Monetary Fund is now predicting that it will plunge into a "deep recession" this year.
In 2019, Russia was the 26th largest goods trading partner of the United States, with some $28 billion exchanged between the two countries, according to the U.S. Trade Representative's office.
Top imports from Russia included mineral fuels, precious metal and stone, iron and steel, fertilizers and inorganic chemicals, all goods that could face higher tariffs once Congress acts to revoke Russia's favored nation trade status.