Another U.S. senator has come forward with a bill that would prohibit Russian seafood imports from entering the country.
On 4 May, 2022, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) filed S.4143 in the chamber. Dubbed the Protecting American Food Producers from Russia’s Market Distortions Act, the bill would keep fish and other products out of American ports until Russia meets certain conditions.
Currently, Russian seafood is already subject to a ban U.S. President Biden announced nearly two months ago in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. But prior to that, Russia enforced its own embargo on American seafood imports after the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama issued sanctions against Russia for invading Crimea in 2014.
“For nearly a decade, Russia unfairly punished American producers, and it is time to level the playing field,” Rubio said. “A war criminal such as Putin should not be allowed to have an unfair advantage over American food producers.”
Under the bill, the ban on Russian food imports would cease if and when three steps are taken by the Russian government. First, the Russian government must end its ban on U.S. imports. In addition, the Russians must also withdraw all military and paramilitary forces from the “internationally recognized territory” of Ukraine, and the president of the United States must receive “credible commitments” from the Russian Federation that it will not act in aggression against Ukraine again.
Rubio is not the first to seek a ban on Russian seafood imports. U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) filed a bill in February 2022 to enact a reciprocal embargo on Russian seafood.
According to data from NOAA Fisheries, more than 589.6 million pounds of Russian seafood were imported into the U.S. from 2014 to 2021. Those seafood products have a value of USD 4.91 billion (EUR 4.7 billion). Nearly 50 million pounds of seafood products worth more than USD 1.2 billion (EUR 1.1 billion) were imported last year.
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