U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday notified the Congress of his plan to drop Russia from a program that allows duty-free imports of certain goods, known as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the White House said.
In a message to the Congress, Obama said it is "appropriate to withdraw Russia's designation as a beneficiary developing country under the GSP program because Russia is "sufficiently advanced" in economic development and improved in trade competitiveness that continued preferential treatment under the GSP is "not warranted."
"Once Russia's eligibility is withdrawn, which would be effected via a presidential proclamation, U.S. imports of GSP- eligible goods from Russia will be subject to normal, non- preferential rates of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," the White House noted.
The decision came as the United States has already imposed sanctions on dozens of Russian businessmen and politicians over Russia's actions on Ukraine. Obama said on Friday that the United States and Germany are prepared to impose broader sanctions on Russia if it continues to destabilize Ukraine.
The GSP is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry of up to 5,000 products when imported from designated beneficiary countries and territories, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
Legal authorization of the GSP program expired in July 2013, and it is now waiting for congressional reauthorization.
In a separate statement, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman said Russia has advanced "beyond the level of economic development and competitiveness for GSP eligibility."
According to USTR data, the United States imported 296 million dollars in goods from Russia under the GSP program from January to July 2013, and Russia is among the top 10 beneficiary developing countries of the GSP program.