U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, applauded the unanimous committee approval today of his bill to urge Russia and other countries to hold accountable human rights violators within their borders, as part of legislation to establish Permanent Normal Trade Relations with Russia (PNTR).
“Unanimous approval of the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, by both the Senate Finance and Senate Foreign Relations Committees, sends a strong message to the world that visiting the United States and having access to our financial system, including U.S. dollars, are privileges that should not be extended to those who violate internationally recognized human rights.
“The forward movement on PNTR, including the Magnitsky Act, protects American companies from unfair trade practices and it will open up market opportunities once Russia joins the World Trade Organization (WTO) in August. Inclusion of the human rights provisions named for the late Sergei Magnitsky assures that the United State will continue to be a world leader in respecting human rights and punishing violators of those rights. I wholeheartedly agree with Chairman Baucus that this legislative package advances the ‘common goals of strengthening our economy, deepening our relations with Russia and … furthering support for universal human rights.’”
Senator Cardin also praised passage an extension of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and a bill that corrects funding for the Wool Trust Fund. Originally established in 2000 and extended in 2004, the Wool Trust Fund supports wool textile manufacturers, wool suit makers, and wool growers, who face unfair competition from suits that are cut and sewn in other countries. The trust fund expires on December 31, 2014 and is funded by tariff revenue collected on wool yarn and fabric imports.
“For decades, Maryland was a leader in the textile trades. This program responds to a trade anomaly – an inverted tariff – that makes it more advantageous to import finished clothing products rather than raw materials that can be assembled in the USA. Our trading partners have reduced or eliminated their own duties on imported fabric – making U.S. manufacturers unable to compete simply as a result of being taxed out of business with duties. I am proud of this proposal that helps our American manufacturers by leveling the playing field, while preventing injury to domestic fabric makers, yarn spinners, and wool farmers and allowing both domestic textile and apparel companies to expand their own expand markets.”