DUSHANBE, January 9, 2013, Asia-Plus — Tajikistan is still covered by the provisions of the Jackson–Vanik amendment, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Sharif Rahimzoda noted while speaking at the session of the Majlisi Namoyandgon (Tajikistan’s lower chamber of parliament) on January 9.
According to him, removing Tajikistan from coverage by Jackson-Vanik will promote further expansion of trade and economic cooperation between Tajikistan and the United States.
“This problem will be fully tackled this year after Tajikistan’s admission to the World Trade Organization as the provisions of Jackson-Vanik are inconsistent with WTO rules,” the minister noted.
To-date, the U.S. Congress has granted a Jackson-Vanik waiver to all the Baltic republics, Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, China, and many other countries, Rahimzoda added.
The Jackson–Vanik amendment is a 1974 provision in United States federal law, intended to affect U.S. trade relations with countries with non-market economies (originally, countries of the Communist bloc) that restrict freedom of emigration and other human rights. It is believed that it was a response to the Soviet Union’s “diploma taxes” levied on Jews attempting to emigrate, although the amendment does not specifically mention Jews and the tax applied to all Soviet citizens, not only Jews.
The amendment, named after its major co-sponsors Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson of Washington in the Senate and Charles Vanik of Ohio in the House of Representatives, both Democrats, is contained in Title IV of the 1974 Trade Act. The amendment passed both houses of the United States Congress unanimously. President Gerald Ford signed the bill into law with the adopted amendment on January 3, 1975. It remains valid, though it has been regularly granted a waiver vis-a-vis the Russian Federation. In 2011, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urged a repeal of the law. On November 16, 2012 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill which would repeal the Jackson–Vanik amendment. The law repealing the Jackson–Vanik amendment was signed together with Magnitsky bill by President Obama on December 14, 2012.
The amendment denies most favored nation status to certain countries with non-market economies that restrict emigration, which is considered a human right. Permanent normal trade relations can be extended to a country subject to the law only if the President determines that it complies with the freedom of emigration requirements of the amendment. However, the President has the authority to grant a yearly waiver to the provisions of Jackson-Vanik, and these waivers were granted to China starting in the late 1970s and later to Vietnam.