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JACKSON-VANIK GRADUATION COALITION
Moving Ukraine Forward

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Ambassador Steven Pifer and Ambassador William Miller, Co-Chairmen

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Written Submission for the Record
For the House Ways and Means Committee's
Hearing on President Bush's Trade Agenda
February 15, 2006

Graduate Ukraine from Jackson-Vanik
Submission by the Jackson-Vanik Graduation Coalition

The Need for Action Now

The Jackson-Vanik Graduation Coalition, which currently includes more than 250 businesses and Ukrainian-American, Jewish-American and non-governmental organizations, calls on the House of Representatives to pass legislation in February to graduate Ukraine from the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment.

The Senate passed by unanimous consent in November 2005 legislation to graduate Ukraine from Jackson-Vanik. Failure by the House now to pass similar legislation will be seen in Ukraine as a failure of the government's foreign policy and an indication of Western disinterest, at a time when the country is struggling to realize the full promise of the Orange Revolution. Ukraine holds critical Rada (parliament) elections on March 26. Congressional inaction in the run-up to those elections will be exploited by opponents of the government's pro-reform, pro-West course; indeed, Rada deputies have expressed concern to Coalition leaders about precisely such tactics by the opposition. The Coalition thus seeks House passage of legislation in February to signal support for U.S.-Ukraine relations, and for Ukraine's efforts to consolidate democratic institutions and build a robust market economy, fully integrated into the Euro-Atlantic community.

Passage of graduation legislation is also necessary to support a key element of President Bush's policy toward Ukraine. In his April 2005 joint statement with Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, President Bush called for "immediately ending application of Jackson-Vanik to Ukraine."

Background

The Jackson-Vanik Amendment, as contained in Title IV of the 1974 U.S. Trade Act, was a response to the discriminatory emigration policies of the former Soviet Union. The communist restrictions had the most serious impact on religious minorities, particularly on the ability of Soviet Jews to emigrate. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment stated that non-market economies that continued to impose emigration restrictions on their citizens would not be granted permanent normal trade relations or "most favored nation" status by the United States until they had met the Amendment's freedom-of emigration requirements.

Since regaining its independence in 1991, Ukraine has built a strong and impressive record of allowing open emigration. Indeed, a large number of Ukrainian Jews have emigrated over the past fourteen years. Ukraine has also created conditions for religious minorities to pursue their beliefs freely. Ukraine thus is a success story for Jackson-Vanik and now merits graduation from the Amendment's provisions.

Ukraine's excellent emigration record was recognized in 1997, when President Clinton found Ukraine to be in full compliance with the Amendment's freedom-of-emigration requirements. President Bush has regularly endorsed this finding and has called on Congress to take the next step: to graduate Ukraine from Jackson-Vanik. Before the House International Relations Committee in July 2005, Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Fried said

"Ukraine has complied with the provisions of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the Trade Act of 1974 for over a decade. This Administration strongly supports Ukraine's immediate 'graduation' from Jackson-Vanik. As the Ukrainian people look for tangible signs of our new relationship, they are perplexed that Ukraine remains tainted by the legacy of Jackson-Vanik. We urge Congressional action on this matter."

In a November 8, 2005 letter to key Congressional leaders, Secretary of State Rice wrote:

"The Administration strongly supports appropriate legislation that would authorize the President to terminate application of Title IV of the Trade Act of 1974 (the Jackson-Vanik Amendment), with respect to Ukraine, and to extend permanent normal trade relations treatment to the products of that country."
 
"Congressional action to lift Jackson-Vanik and extend permanent normal trade relations would sent a strong signal of support to Ukraine at a critical juncture."

Various non-governmental groups, including the National Conference on Soviet Jewry and the Euro-Asian Jewish Conference, agree that Ukraine has demonstrated its full compliance with the Amendment's requirements and therefore should be graduated from the restrictions it imposes.

When President Yushchenko spoke before a joint session of Congress on April 6, 2005, he focused on the importance to Ukraine of being graduated from Jackson-Vanik. He received a standing ovation when he declared, "I'm calling upon you to waive the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Make this step. Please make this step toward Ukraine. Please tear down this wall." There is nothing more important that Congress could do now for Ukraine than pass graduation legislation.

In Sum

The House must act now to pass legislation to graduate Ukraine from Jackson-Vanik:

  • It is the right thing to do. Ukraine has long fully met the freedom-of-emigration requirements of the Amendment.
  • It is imperative to send Ukraine a positive political signal now, on the eve of the March 26 parliamentary elections. Failure to do so will be exploited by political forces in Ukraine that oppose the government's pro-reform, pro-West course.
  • It is essential that Congress help President Bush carry out his April 2005 commitment to President Yushchenko.
  • It is important for the sake of the Jackson-Vanik process that Congress show that, when a country meets the freedom-of-emigration requirements, it will be graduated. What incentive will countries have to meet such requirements if Congress moves the goal posts?
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