February 15, 2015

U.S. House Members, Senators Introduce Bill To Address Currency Manipulation

U.S. Reps. Sander Levin (D-MI), Tim Murphy (R-PA), Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Mo Brooks (R-AL) last week introduced legislation, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, that “takes aim at currency manipulators by enabling the Department of Commerce to impose countervailing duties to offset the impact of currency manipulation on a U.S. industry.” U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) also introduced a similar bill in the Senate last week. 

Rep. Levin, who is the ranking member on the Ways and Means Committee, said his bill would help address the problem, but cautioned it still would not be enough to address currency manipulation. Ranking Member Levin argued Congress must also include “strong and enforceable currency obligations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership in order to deter our trading partners from manipulating their currency in the first place.” 

Meanwhile, the Obama administration continued last week to try to amass support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, the deliberations on which have not addressed currency manipulation by Asian nations. According to The Associated PressU.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken asked Japanese business leaders to “to ‘pick up your phones’ and use their influence to convince officials to work toward a final consensus on the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” 

The White House also continues to have support among Republican leaders on Capitol Hill to leave the question of currency manipulation out of TPP or Trade Promotion Authority discussions. While Rep. Levin spoke for Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee, Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued a statement last week after Rep. Levin introduced his legislation that said, while Republicans understand concerns about currency manipulation, imposing countervailing duties was a “confrontational” move that “would trigger higher tariffs on any country believed to be manipulating its currency, either through unilateral U.S. action or through a mechanism in trade agreements.” Read the committee’s full statement here. 

MSCI will continue to argue that Congress must pass strong efforts to address currency manipulation.