Baker Cautious on Jackson-vanik, Has No Solution to Refugee Problem

The Bush administration will consider more than just increased emigration from the Soviet Union in deciding whether to recommend a waiver of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, Secretary of State James Baker said Tuesday.

“I think that this whole question of trade with the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc countries should be looked at in the context of the overall U.S.-Soviet relationship,” Baker told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rep. Edward Feighan (D-Ohio) said to Baker that because of the increased Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union, there has been talk of waiving the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which links U.S. most-favored-nation trade benefits to the Soviet Union with increased emigration.

Baker agreed that “remarkable strides and changes” in human rights have been made by the Soviet Union, particularly in emigration.

He said the administration is looking into its trade policies with the USSR, but stressed that this does not mean “that we ought to necessarily change it. I think we ought to look at it in the context of other changes that have been made in human rights policies in the Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc countries,” where more has to be done, he said.

Baker said the administration has to keep in mind that “the Soviet Union is still a very heavily armed superpower with interests that are adverse to the United States.”

He also said that the administration has an obligation to support the decision made in the last days of the Reagan administration to attend a human rights conference in Moscow in 1991.

But he added that this decision is subject to the Soviets’ keeping the promises they have made on improving their human rights policies, including revising laws to make it easier to emigrate.

Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.) urged Baker to solve the problem caused by the increased emigration of Jews and others from the Soviet Union, which has exceeded the funds the United States has allocated for refugees. This has resulted in hundreds of Soviet Jews being refused refugee status.

“I don’t have an answer to it,” Baker said. “We have a budget crunch.”

Gilman suggested increasing the budget for refugees to more “realistic figure.”

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