US is lifting the last of its economic sanctions against Poland
Washington — The United States has decided to lift the last of several economic sanctions on Poland that were imposed in 1981 after the Polish government declared martial law and cracked down on the Solidarity trade union movement. The announcement is expected to be made by President Reagan today at a meeting with Polish-American leaders.
Analysts say the practical effect of removing the last of the sanctions imposed in 1981 will be minimal. The remaining sanctions are the repeal of Poland's ``most favored nation'' trading status and a ban on new US government guaranteed credits to Poland.
Even before sanctions, the US market for Polish goods was small, so the return to Poland of favored trading status will have little effect. Also, it could be months or years before US credits to Poland, which are used mainly to finance purchases of US grain, are restored.
``In economic terms, the effect will be purely symbolic,'' says Jan Nowak, a director of the Polish American Congress.
But observers say the action could have an important psychological effect.
By lifting sanctions now, Washington has demonstrated to leaders in Warsaw that Poland has something to gain from good relations with the US, Mr. Nowak says. Through persuasion and using credits to Poland as leverage, the US can help influence Polish human rights practices and economic reforms, he adds.
``The US can achieve more in terms of protecting the [Polish] opposition through a dialogue [with Warsaw] than through ostracism and isolation,'' Nowak says.
The US earlier removed several of its original sanctions against Poland in response to concessions by the Warsaw government. Pressure to lift the remaining sanctions increased after Poland's leader, Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski, agreed to release 250 political prisoners last fall.
The State Department delayed a final decision to make sure none of the freed dissidents would be rearrested.
Leaders of the Polish-American community have argued that continuing the US economic pressure on Poland would enable the Warsaw government to transfer blame for the country's economic troubles to Washington.
Polish church leaders and Solidarity founder Lech Walesa also urged an end to US sanctions in meetings last month with visiting US Deputy Secretary of State John Whitehead.