U.S. trade restrictions on Russia are expanding a week after the White House cracked down on exports to that country in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. Congress is moving ahead on legislation that would affect all imports from Russia while the White House reversed course and said it will ban imports of Russian oil.

The leaders of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees announced March 7 a bipartisan agreement on legislation that would suspend normal trade relations treatment for goods imported from Russia and Belarus, effectively increasing import duties on such goods. According to an article in The New York Times, this move “would cause the average tariff the United States applies to Russia goods to rise to about 33 percent from 3 percent.” Canada took similar action effective March 2.

A joint statement said the forthcoming bill would also (1) provide the president with authority to further increase tariffs on products of Russia and Belarus, (2) require the U.S. trade representative to seek suspension of Russia’s participation in the World Trade Organization and halt Belarus’ WTO accession, (3) authorize the president to restore NTR with Russia and Belarus subject to certain conditions and congressional disapproval, and (4) ban imports of energy products from Russia.

The bill’s prospects for enactment were bolstered March 8 when President Biden issued an executive order prohibiting (1) imports of crude oil, certain petroleum products, liquefied natural gas, coal, and coal products from Russia, (2) new investment in Russia’s energy sector by U.S. persons, wherever located, and (3) any approval, financing, facilitation, or guarantee by a U.S. person, wherever located, of a transaction by a foreign person that would be prohibited under this EO if performed by a U.S. person or within the U.S. A White House fact sheet noted that this ban was imposed “in close consultation with our allies and partners around the world” even though some of them are not “currently in a position to join us.”

In related news, the Center for Biological Diversity has filed a Section 232 petition with the Department of Commerce seeking a ban on imports of fossil fuels from Russia on national security grounds.

For more information on these actions, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956 or via email.

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