Reagan Administration Against More Trade Restrictions on Soviet Union
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Reagan Administration Against More Trade Restrictions on Soviet Union

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The Reagan Administration said Tuesday that it is opposing Congressional legislation that would put further restrictions on trade with the Soviet Union until it eases its emigration policy.

But Thomas Simons Jr., Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Europe, told a joint meeting of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittees on International Economic Policy and Trade and Europe and the Middle East that there were no plans to dilute the Jackson-Vanik amendment which links Most-Favores-Nation trade status with the emigration record of Soviet bloc countries.

“It’s the law of the land and we implement it,” said Simons. He added that the Administration also supports the Stevenson Amendment restricting Soviet access to Western credits and cash.

The subcommittees heard testimony from Administration officials, Soviet experts and Soviet Jewry groups to determine whether the new Soviet policy of glasnost (openness) should result in eased trade restrictions.

“The jury is still out on whether the Soviet bear is more or less dangerous when hungry.” said Rep. Tom Lantos (D. Calif.)


Simons said there was no evidence to support a Congressional amendment to the Trade Bill which would ban seven categories of goods imported by the Soviet Union because they are made with forced labor.

“Legislating such a ban without adequate evidence on which to make such a finding of fact looks like economic warfare, pure and simple,” Simons said.

But Rep Christopher Smith (R. NJ) said that the CIA had established several years ago that the goods were made with Soviet slave labor and that he was “disappointed” that the Administration had failed to act on a ban.

The Administration is also opposing an amendment sponsored by Sens. Jake Garn (R. Utah) and William Proxmire (D. Wis.) that would restrict the Soviets from receiving untied bank loans from American banks.

“Bank credits to the USSR already face a host of restrictions, and those loans that are extended largely go to support direct U.S. exports,” said Simons.

However, Pamela Cohen, president of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews, said that over the past year the Soviet Union received nearly $4 billion in loans from Western banks not linked to any trade transaction.

Both Cohen and NCSJ executive director Jerry Goodman testified that the policy of glasnost has not resulted in an easing of restrictions on emigration.

Goodman noted that long-term refuseniks are now being refused permission to leave because they possess state secrets, while others have been told they have “insufficient kinship” ties to claim family reunification with relatives in the West.

“The outline of the Soviet strategy is clear,” said Cohen. “As always, Jews are for sale. The equation for them is the least-necessary concession in emigration in exchange for U.S. trade concessions.”

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