Reported by SHELBY TALCOTT, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT | March 11, 2022
President Joe Biden announced Friday that the U.S., alongside the G7 and European Union, are moving to revoke Russia’s “most favored nation” status. The status is referred to as “permanent normal trade relations (PNTR)” in the U.S., and Biden said revoking it will “make it harder for Russia to do business with the United States.” By doing it alongside key allies, Biden said the move “will be another crushing blow to the Russian economy” amid its invasion of Ukraine.
“Each of our nations are going to take steps to deny ‘most favored nation’ status to Russia,” the president said Friday morning at the White House. “A most favored nation status designation means two countries have agreed to trade with each other under the best possible terms – low tariffs, few barriers to trade and the highest possible imports allowed.”
Lifting a nation’s “most favored” status requires Congress to pass legislation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already said she supports the move, and Biden thanked her for holding off on revoking PNTR in the House until he was able to “line up key allies to keep us in complete unison.”
“Unity among allies is critically important, as you all know – from my perspective, at least,” Biden said. (RELATED: ‘Putin Chose This War’: Biden Lays Out New Sanctions Against Russia After Full-Scale Invasion)
The president also touted lawmakers’ bipartisanship during his remarks. He noted that while “many issues divide us in Washington … standing for democracy in Ukraine … should not be one of those issues.”
“The free world is coming together to confront Putin,” Biden said. “Our two parties here at home are leading the way. With that bipartisan cooperation, I’m looking forward to signing into law the bill revoking PNTR, which is, again, most people think it’s ‘most favored nation status.’”
Biden announced other efforts aimed at continuing to cripple the Russian economy Friday. He said the administration plans to act further to ban “signature sectors” of the country’s economy, naming the seafood, vodka and diamond sectors as examples. The administration is also adding new names to the list of oligarchs and family members previously targeted by sanctions, declaring that “they support [Russian President Vladimir] Putin” and “steal from the Russian people.”
“Putin is an aggressor,” Biden said. “He is the aggressor, and Putin must pay the price. He cannot pursue a war that threatens the very foundations … of international peace and stability, and then ask for financial help from the international community.”
Friday’s announcement comes on the heels of the administration’s decision to ban U.S. imports of Russian oil. The president made that announcement Tuesday, calling it “another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine.” European allies did not announce any such decision in coordination with the U.S., but the countries were consulted as Biden weighed making the move.