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​US to withdraw Russia from GSP trade benefits program

​US to withdraw Russia from GSP trade benefits program
President Barack Obama has notified Congress of his plan to drop Russia from the US Generalized system of Preferences (GSP) trade benefits program, the White House said. The program allows duty-free imports for certain goods.

Obama sent the notification to Congress on Wednesday. The White House stated that Russia is “sufficiently advanced economically” and no longer needs special treatment.

“Russia's actions regarding Ukraine, while not directly related to the President's decision regarding Russia's eligibility for GSP benefits, make it particularly appropriate to take this step now,” Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, stated in the email to Reuters.

The move means that Russian goods will be subject to import customs duties in the US.

The US GSP is a program which is targeted at promoting economic growth in the developing world “by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories,” according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

The US has already imposed sanctions on dozens of Russian businessmen and politicians, as well as the country’s fourteenth largest lending institution, Bank Rossiya. Russia responded initially by imposing its own sanctions on high-ranking US officials.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said in late April that Russia faces “unprecedented” economic challenges, but that sanctions will make Russia stronger.

Among the businessmen affected by the sanctions is head of Russia’s state-owned Rosneft, Igor Sechin. Sechin linked the measure to Rosneft’s activity and considered it as “an appreciation” of the company’s “efficiency”.