MOSCOW, October 4 (RIA Novosti) - The removal of the US GSP benefits from Russia is not an economic measure, but a political signal showing that Washington is unwilling to alleviate the conflict, Mikhail Yemelyanov, First Deputy of the Chairperson of the Russian State Duma Committee on Economic Policy, told RIA Novosti.
"The decision to deprive us of benefits, preferences is mostly a symbolic measure. The harm that comes from it is that the United States shows it is not planning to decrease the level of confrontation with Russia. Russia needs to be ready for this. This is a political rather than economic signal," Yemelyanov stated.
According to the official, the removal of the benefits would not be damaging to the Russian economy.
"The ramifications will be minimal since the volume of the trade with the United States is not large, while the products to which the preferences applied were even smaller in number. So, there will not be any particular harm," he explained.
Yemelyanov also stated that the decision would not increase prices and said that the prices did not rise because of the sanctions.
"The main reason is the halting of the US policy of qualitative alleviation, strengthening of the dollar, drops in oil prices; this is on the one hand. On the other hand - the tough position of the Central Bank that has strengthened the ruble for the last 10 years. Now, the balance of payments is deteriorating as a result of which the rate of the dollar is rising. Consequently, the prices are rising too. The sanctions are in the last place. The policy started long before all these sanctions, at the end of the last year," the official added.
Earlier, US president Barack Obama signed a decree according to which Russia's trade benefits were removed under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. The program aims to boost economic advancement in the world's developing countries through the provision of duty-free entry of about 5,000 products from one of the 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories.
The decree entered into force on October 3, reasoning that Russia's economy and competitiveness have advanced thus becoming ineligible for the GSP benefits.