In the TPP debate, no one is talking currency

Posted by mmcmullan on 10/09/2013

President Obama had to bail on a swing through Asia this week to attend to the ongoing political gridlock in D.C.

But his absence from a diplomatic summit in Indonesia didn’t halt officials, representing the 12 countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, from gathering on the sidelines to discuss the trade deal. And there are plenty of issues that the parties-that-aren’t-America would still like to discuss. Reports the Wall Street Journal:

At the heart of the partnership is a traditional free trade pact, designed to lower tariffs among participating countries. But negotiators say the number and complexity of the additional beyond-the-border provisions are mostly spearheaded by the U.S. and supported by negotiating countries to varying degrees.

Emphasis added to highlight a point of contention: As Dean Baker of the Center for Economic Policy Research has pointed out, we should be careful about throwing around the term “free trade pact” when referring to the TPP.

But conspicuously absent from the issues still being debated – intellectual-property rights and environmental safeguards, transparency – is the one that politicians back in Washington actually agree on: currency manipulation!

Don’t forget, it was just a few weeks ago that 60 Senators signed a letter asking that the administration address currency manipulation in any TPP agreement. Japan has used it to boost its economy at the expense of American manufacturers (our domestic auto industry has serious beef with this) and it’s beyond unfortunate that a tariff-lowering trade deal, one the Japanese government wants, would be its reward for essentially cheating American industry out of hard-earned business.

Will a currency manipulation rule make it into a TPP deal? No, probably not. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold our government accountable for ignoring the issue. Click here to give the White House some grief over this issue.

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