February 22, 2016

Citing Lack Of Currency Provisions, Top House Democrat Says He Will Oppose Trans-Pacific Partnership

President Barack Obama met last week with leaders from several southeast Asian countries, including several countries that have signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, but his visit and his administration’s ongoing advocacy in favor of the TPP have done little to convince members of Congress to support the deal. 

Indeed, in an interview last week with the Christian Science Monitor, House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) announced he would vote against the TPP. According to Morning Consult (subscription required), Rep. Levin, who has opposed major trade deals in the past and is skeptical of free trade in general, said “the deal’s disciplines on labor, investment, currency manipulation and rules for automobile manufacturing are ‘wholly inadequate’ and don’t do enough to improve the country’s model for international trade agreements.” (Rep. Levin’s full conversation with the Christian Science Monitor is available here.) 

A White House spokesperson said the Obama administration was “not surprised” by Rep. Levin’s announcement. 

Rep. Levin specifically criticized the fact that TPP does not include any provisions to deal with currency manipulation. (Last January, Rep. Levin outlined ten priorities for the TPP in which he said, “The TPP Agreement should include enforceable rules requiring each TPP Party to avoid manipulating exchange rates to gain an unfair competitive advantage in international trade, consistent with each TPP Party’s longstanding IMF obligations, which clearly distinguish between currency manipulation – government interventions in foreign exchange markets – and monetary policy.”) In his interview last week, the congressman said a side deal concerning the issue was “not enough to convince him that countries such as Japan will be dissuaded from devaluing their currencies to boost exports at the expense of U.S. jobs.” (Learn more about that deal here.) 

Despite Rep. Levin’s opposition, a group of automakers announced their support for TPP last week and the National Farm Bureau is sending members to Capitol Hill this week to support the deal. 

As Connecting the Dots has reported previously, it is unlikely Congress will vote on the TPP before the November 2016 elections.