February 22, 2015

House Ways And Means Committee Members Touch On Currency Manipulation During Trip To Japan

Eight members of the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means traveled to Japan last week during the congressional recess to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and other trade issues with leaders in that nation. 

Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) led the delegation, which included Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE). ​

In a statement released the day the members arrived in Japan, the delegation discussed the importance of the TPP and said coming to an agreement on the pact “would strengthen this important bond and give both nations greater influence in a rapidly changing region.” The statement specifically says the lawmakers discussed agriculture issues, automobile manufacturing and the general benefits of the agreement with their Japanese counterparts, but does not indicate the extent to which the delegation addressed currency issues. (As a reminder, the Obama administration has not addressed the question of currency manipulation in its TPP negotiations.) 

The Associated Press suggested Chairman Ryan did address currency manipulation briefly. Publicly, at least, Rep. Ryan said, “Currency manipulation is a real concern. Working on TPA legislation we want to be sure we do not add something that makes it more difficult to achieve consensus.” Unfortunately, in a Bloomberg TV interview, Rep. Ryan also said, “[T]here is an issue addressing currency. I think you had to watch how much currency you put into this. I think we have to be very careful that we don't want to put a provision in here that could trigger a trade war or tariff retaliations or jeopardize our standing as the preserver of the world's reserve currency.” 

None of the members of the delegation are currently cosponsors of H.R. 820, Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act

The U.S. Senate and House could vote on Trade Promotion Authority within the next few months. The vote on this legislation is expected to be very close – MSCI encourages its members to call their representatives in Congress to ask them to support efforts to address currency manipulation as part of the debate on Trade Promotion Authority.