Press Release

March 1, 2022
Cardin, Portman Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Revoke Free Trade Privileges for Countries that Commit Acts of Aggression and Permanently Strengthen Sanctions

Bipartisan No Trading with Invaders Act would strip Permanent Normal Trading Relations from countries such as Russia that invade other countries and Permanently Extend Magnitsky Sanctions Policy

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today announced the introduction of bipartisan legislation to revoke free trade privileges from Russia and other countries that invade sovereign nations. The No Trading with Invaders Act would allow the president to revoke Permanent Normal Trading Relations (PNTR) for any Communist, or formerly Communist, country that commits an act of aggression against another member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).  It also would permanently reauthorize the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act which authorizes the President to impose sanctions on individuals and entities involved in major human rights abuses and acts of corruption.

“A country that invades another country without any provocation should not be entitled to normal trade relations with the United States. Additionally, sanctions are inextricably linked with our whole-of-government enforcement policies,” said Senator Cardin. “The Global Magnitsky Act extends U.S. sanctions against violators of human rights and corrupt actors so they do not escape the consequences of their actions even when their home country fails to seek justice for their victims, and it is time to make this a permanent feature of our laws.”

“Free trade with the United States is a privilege not a right,” said Senator Portman. “Countries who wantonly invade others—and democracies no less—do not deserve the benefits of unlimited access to our economy. Whether that be Russia invading Ukraine today, or China invading Taiwan in the future, we need to have tools in place to swiftly punish acts of aggression. I urge my colleagues to quickly pass this bipartisan bill, to show Russia the consequences of its decision to invade Ukraine.”

Congress has granted PNTR to Communist, and formerly Communist, countries as part of those countries accession to the World Trade Organization. The effect is that after receiving PNTR countries can receive tariff-free access to the U.S. economy. Congress granted PNTR to Russia in 2012, and to China in 2000. However, Congress has revoked free trade privileges as a result of aggression in the past. In 1992, Congress revoked unrestricted market access for Serbia and Montenegro as a result of their aggression in the wake of the breakup of Yugoslavia. Revoking PNTR would have the effect of raising tariffs on goods from Russia (or a future aggressor) to the rates which they were before Russia joined the WTO and received PNTR from Congress.

Under the bill, PNTR would be revoked if the President determines that an act of aggression has taken place. After revoking PNTR in the wake of aggression, the legislation would permit the President to restore PNTR if specific conditions were met and after consultation with Congress.

The bill also reauthorizes the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which made global the sanctions program first instituted as a Russia-specific program in the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 as part of the law that extended PNTR to Russia. The Global Magnitsky Act extends U.S. sanctions against violators of human rights and corrupt actors so they do not escape the consequences of their actions even when their home country fails to seek justice for their victims.

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