US President Joe Biden has signed an order to ban imports from “signature sectors of the Russian economy”, including seafood.

The embargo, announced on Friday, is part of Washington’s efforts to “ramp up the economic pressure on Putin and to further isolate Russia on the global stage”, Biden said.

There is also set to be a ban on the export of luxury US goods to Russia. “They’re not the last steps we’re going to take,” Biden said.

According to data from US government agency The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Russia was the 11th biggest shipper of seafood products to the US in volume terms and tenth-largest in value terms in 2021.

Russia exported just short of 48.9m kilograms of seafood to the US last year, the NOAA’s figures show. The shipments were worth US$1.2bn.

In volume terms, China was the biggest exporter of seafood to the US in 2021, shipping 397m kg. In value terms, Canada is the largest supplier, with seafood exports worth $4.87bn last year.

The US President also wants Russia’s status as a ‘most favoured nation’ revoked. He needs Congress to vote through the proposal.

“A most-favoured-nation status designation means two countries have agreed to trade with each other under the best possible terms — low tariffs, few barriers to trade, and the highest possible imports allowed. In the United States, we call this “permanent normal trade relations” — PNTR — but it’s the same thing,” Biden said.

“Revoking PNTR for Russia is going to make it harder for Russia to do business with the United States.  And doing it in unison with other nations that make up half of the global economy will be another crushing blow to the Russian economy that’s already suffering very badly from our sanctions.”

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, said the lower chamber would work on passing a bill this week.

In the upper house, the Senate, a spokesperson for majority leader Chuck Schumer was quoted by Politico as saying: “We’re working on an agreement that the Senate can pass quickly.”

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