A few days ago I posted a few short notes on several trade-related happenings (here). There have been some recent developments that are worth pointing out.
Farm Bill. I mentioned that, as of last week, Congress was still stuck on a Farm Bill, and there was talk of a so-called “dairy cliff” . . . The expiration of the existing Farm Bill provisions would have caused the cost of some dairy products to spike in the short term. There is now agreement on a temporary solution, however. Provisions of the existing (2008) farm bill will be kept in place as a holdover, while lawmakers negotiate a broader package in the next Congress.
U.S.-Russia relations. I also noted that on December 14 the U.S. normalized trade relations with Russia by repealing the Jackson–Vanik Amendment, which served as a potential restriction on trade between the countries. The repeal notwithstanding, the U.S.-Russia relationship took a hit for another reason. Just as the Amendment was repealed, the U.S. also adopted a new law, the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act. The Magnitsky Law is designed to punish Russian officials suspected of human rights abuses, via visa restrictions and asset freezing. (The title and impetus for the law were inspired by the arrest/death of an anticorruption lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison.) It is widely believed that the Magnitsky Law led to the recently implemented Russian legislation that bans Americans from adopting Russian children (see here).