© . FILE PHOTO: A view shows the headquarters of the Russian Central Bank in Moscow, Russia Feb. 22, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin BRUSSELS () – The United States, the European Union, Britain, Canada and Japan were set to jointly move to Russia’s on Friday. revoke “most favored nation” (MFN) status due to the invasion of Ukraine, people familiar with the situation told . But what is the MFN status and what does its removal mean? BEST NATIONS STATUS The 164 members of the World Trade Organization commit to treating other members equally so that they can all benefit from each other’s lowest tariffs, highest import quotas and fewest trade barriers for goods and services. This principle of non-discrimination is known as most favored nation (MFN) treatment. There are some exceptions, such as when members enter into bilateral trade agreements or when members offer developing countries special access to their markets. For countries outside the WTO, such as Iran, North Korea, Syria or Russia’s ally Belarus, WTO members can impose whatever trade measures they want without violating global trade rules. REMOVING MFN STATUS There is no formal procedure for suspending MFN treatment and it is not clear whether members are required to notify the WTO if they do so. India suspended Pakistan’s MFN status in 2019 after a suicide bombing by a Pakistan-based Islamist group killed 40 police officers. Pakistan has never granted India MFN status. WHAT DOES THE LOSS OF MFN STATUS MEAN? Withdrawing Russia’s MFN status sends a strong signal that the United States and its western allies do not consider Russia an economic partner in any way, but it does not in itself change trading conditions. It does formally allow Western allies to raise import tariffs or impose quotas on, or even ban, Russian goods, and restrict services abroad. They could also be overlooking Russian intellectual property rights. Prior to the removal of MFN status, the United States had already announced a ban on Russian oil and gas imports. Canada last week said it was revoking MFN status for Russia and Belarus, allowing Russian troops to enter Ukraine from its territory, imposing a 35% general tariff on virtually all imports. “Russia and Belarus will join North Korea as the only countries whose imports are subject to the general tariff,” Canada said. The European Union has already banned about 70% of all imports, such as tobacco, potash and products made from wood or steel, from Belarus, which is not a member of the WTO. However, it is waiting for the formal approval of the most-favoured-favorite suspension before taking similar measures against Russia. Imports from Russia include mineral fuels, precious metals and stones, iron and steel, fertilizers and inorganic chemicals. The MFN action comes on top of unprecedented sanctions, export controls and banking restrictions aimed at pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin to end Europe’s worst conflict since World War II.