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Pushing for an End to Chinese Currency Manipulation

Weekly Updateby Sander Levin
September 18, 2011

Gov. Rick Snyder’s trip to China comes amidst increasing calls for the U.S. to crack down on China’s manipulation of its currency.

Last fall, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that I co-authored to do just that. Majorities of both parties voted in favor of that bill. The vote was overwhelming and bipartisan and it sent a powerful message to the world’s second largest economy: Congress was ready to take action to rein in the artificial devaluation of China’s currency, the RMB.

Unfortunately, it has since stalled. The Senate did not move on the measure. And this year, the Republican-controlled House has ignored the fact that more than 200 Democratic and Republican lawmakers support the legislation I reintroduced in February. The Republican leadership has offered no plans to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

The consequences of inaction are clear. The Chinese government’s manipulation of the RMB costs at least one million American jobs, according to Fred Bergsten, director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The manipulation, Bergsten has said, “is by far the largest protectionist measure adopted by any country since the Second World War — and probably in all of history.”

China, meanwhile, continues to purchase U.S. Treasury bills in order to leverage its currency and maintain its low value. Combined, the practices artificially lower the cost of imported Chinese products and increase the cost of American exports to China.

In the summer of 2010, China said it would float its currency. But in the 15 months since that announcement, the RMB has appreciated only 6 percent against the U.S. dollar, well below what economists say it should. In fact, according to one reputable estimate, the RMB is still 28 percent below its “true” value.

The Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (HR 639) that I reintroduced this year together with Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio and Republican Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania, would allow countervailing import duties for U.S. industries that are injured by the undervalued RMB. The Commerce Department, as a result of the legislation, would have the authority to impose import tariffs to offset the negative consequences of China’s undervalued currency. The bill reverses a current Commerce Department practice that has precluded it from treating foreign government currency practices as an export subsidy while also directing the department on how to measure subsidies provided to foreign producers through currency undervaluation.

Any retribution by China — a move feared by some critics of the measure — is prohibited by the World Trade Organization. To those who are concerned with the possible cost of reform, I offer this: the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act could help reduce our trade deficit by at least $200 billion annually.

We must not be afraid to help strengthen the hands of American workers and businesses. Congress should move on this bipartisan measure immediately.

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Sander Levin was first elected to Congress from Southeast Michigan in 1982 and is the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

September 18, 2011 · Filed under Features

33 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Craveman // Sep 28, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Again a nother no brainer.
    Unless of corse. There is some other motive other than protecting our great nation.

    Just sayin.

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    […] […]

  • 3 Made in USA (Again): Why Manufacturing Is Coming Home | Invoice Factoring at Light Speed // Mar 24, 2012 at 3:52 am

    […] there have been bills proposed to combat currency manipulation, they’ve largely stalled in […]

  • 4 Made in USA (Again): Why Manufacturing Is Coming Home | Augusta Blog // Mar 24, 2012 at 11:02 am

    […] there have been bills proposed to combat currency manipulation, they’ve largely stalled in […]

  • 5 Made in USA (Again): Why Manufacturing Is Coming Home « MADE IN USA NEWS // Mar 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    […] there have been bills proposed to combat currency manipulation, they’ve largely stalled in […]

  • 6 Chris // Mar 30, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    One question I would have is if something else has been attached to the bill making it impossible or less likely to pass or act on it. This is a tactic that is often used to portray someone as a nay sayer. Bills often times appear a no brainer until you see what has been added that has nothing to do with the original intent at all. It’s added to purposely stall the bill without the focus of who is truely against it. Has this happened? And if not, then people should be targeting this more pro-actively.

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