Washington DC – National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) President Bill Reinsch on Friday sent a letter to all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, underscoring its support for permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with Russia and urging members to oppose S. 1039, the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which is scheduled to be marked up by the Committee tomorrow.
“We understand that on June 19 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will mark up S. 1039. While we share the indignation over the murder of Mr. Magnitsky, we believe that the bill as it has been publicly discussed, is seriously flawed:
• The bill does not establish a process to determine what constitutes responsibility or to define “gross human rights violations,” creating great uncertainty for implementation.
• The bill authorizes the chair and ranking members of ten House and Senate committees to propose persons to be included on the list. The Secretary of State is then required to decide on their inclusion and to submit a response to Congress explaining action or inaction. This provision invites politicization of the process.
• … The bill requires the Secretaries of State and Treasury also to list persons who “acted as an agent of or on behalf of a person in …violations of internationally recognized human rights.” This extends the denial of visas and freezing of U.S. assets to the “agents” of listed person. The term agent is undefined and could be interpreted broadly to cover a wide range of relationships, including joint venture partners, licensees, customers and suppliers.
… The NFTC and USA*Engage share the desire of Members of Congress that the United States take a clear position on human rights violations in Russia and anywhere else in the world. We urge Congress in its consideration of this legislation to limit its scope to measures already taken by the Executive Branch to deny visas to Russian persons with a direct involvement in the death of Sergei Magnitsky and support its authority to do so anywhere else.”
Click here to read the full letter.
About the NFTC
Advancing Global Commerce for Nearly A Century- The National Foreign Trade Council (www.nftc.org) is a leading business organization advocating an open, rules-based global trading system. Founded in 1914 by a broad-based group of American companies, the NFTC now serves hundreds of member companies through its offices in Washington and New York.
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