September 21, 2015

Congress Still Discussing Efforts To Address Currency Manipulation – Add Your Voice To The Debate Today!

Last week a bipartisan group of seven U.S. senators led by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman asking that the Obama administration address currency manipulation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, which it is still negotiating. The letter argues China’s recent currency devaluation showed currency manipulation “can have significant and immediate global economic impacts” and, as such, “must be addressed seriously, aggressively, and promptly.” The senators also said they feared China’s devaluation, and efforts by other countries to manipulate their currencies, “could lead to a pattern of competitive devaluation within the Asia-Pacific that could hurt U.S. workers and exports for years to come.” (The full letter is available here.) 

According to the letter, and according to Politico’s “Morning Trade,” “recent discussions between Senate staffers and negotiators from other TPP countries ‘suggest very little progress has been made” about how to address currency issues in the trade deal. 

As a reminder, this summer TPP countries agreed that they would consider forming “a ‘top-level forum’ to address currency manipulation” that would bring finance ministers together from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership countries to discuss the issue of currency manipulation. (See this Connecting the Dots story for more information on this agreement.) 

MSCI also reminds its members that lawmakers in the House and Senate are still hammering out differences on a customs bill that could potentially include a provision compelling the U.S. Commerce Department to address currency manipulation. 

The Senate version of the customs bill includes language that would require the Commerce Department investigate allegations of currency manipulation and consider countervailing duties to address it. Since the House version of the bill does not include this provision, it is unclear whether they will survive and make it into a final bill. That’s why MSCI continues to urge its members to call their representatives and senators to urge them to support the Senate provisions. Senate conferees are: Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Tell lawmakers that failure to enact this language would put the United States at a competitive disadvantage and erode the benefits of passing the Trade Promotion Authority bill they passed earlier this summer.