USA*ENGAGE Says Russia Sanctions Bill is Counterproductive

Monday, 24 July 2000

"It would be most unfortunate if one of Slobodan Milosevic's lasting impacts is that U.S. exporters are again forced to cede the Russian market to foreign competitors," said Bill Lane, Chairman of USA*ENGAGE and Caterpillar's Washington Director for Government Affairs. "While the situation in Serbia should be a top U.S. foreign policy objective, it is an issue that calls for a diplomatic solution, not one that sanctions American companies that sell to Russia."

Lane noted that unilateral economic sanctions rarely work, are frequently counterproductive, and can hurt other American objectives. "If history is any guide, the Helms bill will not have the desired effect, which is to undermine Milosevic's regime in Serbia," Lane said. "Rather, the legislation would hurt American exporters while heightening tensions between the U.S. and Russia."

Lane urged the Senate to remember previous U.S. sanctions regimes against Russia, notably the Soviet grain and pipeline equipment embargoes, which failed to achieve their stated objectives but succeeded in turning over the Soviet market to foreign competitors. "We urge the conference committee to reject this ill-advised provision," Lane concluded.

USA*ENGAGE is a coalition of 670 small and large businesses, agriculture groups and trade associations working to seek alternatives to the proliferation of unilateral U.S. foreign policy sanctions and to promote the benefits of U.S. engagement abroad. For more information on USA*ENGAGE and the harmful effects of unilateral trade sanctions, visit the USA*ENGAGE web site at