July 20, 2015

House And Senate Lawmakers Urge Action On Currency Manipulation – You Should Too!

Last week, a bipartisan group of U.S. senators wrote to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman urging them to prioritize efforts to address currency manipulation in free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership on which the Obama Administration is currently finishing negotiations. The letter noted, “[L]ast month Congress passed Trade Promotion Authority, which includes two principal negotiating objectives that explicitly call on the Administration to address currency manipulation through our ongoing trade negotiations” and asked that, as the Obama Administration continues negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it “prioritize combatting currency manipulation by our competitors.” 

The letter also outlined the negative effects of currency manipulation on U.S. workers. The senators said, “American workers can compete and win in the global economy if given a level playing field. However, our workers suffer when our competitors manipulate their currency to boost foreign exports to the U.S., while making Made in America exports more expensive. Currency manipulation is one of the most egregious efforts undertaken to harm the competitiveness of hard-working manufacturers, farmers and small businesses throughout the U.S.” 

The senators who signed the letter were: Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Burr (R-NC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Rob Portman (R-OH), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), all members of the Senate Finance Committee.

House lawmakers kept up the drumbeat on this issue last week as well. As a reminder, as part of the debate over a final customs reauthorization bill, House and Senate negotiators will have to decide whether to include a provision in the legislation that would require the U.S. Commerce Department to investigate allegations of currency manipulation and consider countervailing duties to address it. As such, a group of House Democrats led by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) last week wrote a letter to their colleagues who are negotiating the customs bill that asked them to include the Senate’s currency language in the final version on which lawmakers will vote. 

MSCI agrees with these lawmakers and strongly urges its members to call their representatives and senators to urge them to support the Senate currency language. Members are also encouraged to call members of the customs bill conference committee. While the House conferees have not yet been named, Senate conferees have. They 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). Failure to enact this language would put the United States at a competitive disadvantage and erode the benefits of passing Trade Promotion Authority and opening new markets to U.S. products. 

To read more about currency manipulation and how it affects U.S. workers and the U.S. manufacturing industry, read this column by University of Maryland economist Peter Morici and Rep. Curt Clawson (R-FL), who is the former CEO of automotive wheel manufacturer Hayes Lemmerz International.