A currency bill vs. "more-of-the-same" trade agreements
Amidst the background of a growing jobs crisis in the U.S., and an overall struggle to revitalize U.S. manufacturing, Congress faces a very yin-yang battle.
On the one hand is the potential consideration and passage of controversial new free trade agreements with Colombia, Korea, and Panama.
On the other is concerted action to tackle China's continued, illegal currency manipulation, which has taken a toll on U.S. manufacturers.
As Vicki Needham reported over the weekend in The Hill, the "contentious and potentially explosive issue of China's currency could slide into the spotlight again next month as lawmakers begin what is expected to be a difficult trade debate in Congress."
Needham says that Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is hoping to add legislation on China's currency to a pending Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill. Doing so would "likely draw out completion" of any new free trade deals since "the White House hasn't agreed to accept any other changes."
The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has been a strong proponent of legislation that would treat currency undervaluation as a prohibited export subsidy. Needham quotes AAM executive director Scott Paul on the need for such legislation:
"It's well past time to call China's bluff on its currency manipulation," said Scott Paul, AAM's executive director. "Congress should swiftly pass bipartisan legislation to tackle illegal currency subsidization."
Paul argues that China's currency is undervalued by 30-40 percent and the Obama administration has failed five times to designate China as a currency manipulator.
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