News / Asia

US Senate to Consider Bill Targeting Chinese Currency Practices

A view of the US Capitol in Washington (File Photo)
A view of the US Capitol in Washington (File Photo)
Michael Bowman

America’s extensive yet friction-laden economic relationship with China will be the focus of debate in the U.S. Senate this week, as it considers a bill to penalize Beijing for allegedly manipulating China’s currency, the yuan, to benefit domestic exports and disadvantage foreign imports.

China's export strategy

U.S. officials have long complained that China intentionally maintains an undervalued yuan as part of an aggressive - some might say predatory - export promotion strategy.

Timothy Geithner, U.S. Treasury Secretary (File Photo)
Timothy Geithner, U.S. Treasury Secretary (File Photo)

“China’s exchange rate policy is unfair, and hurts the interests of American producers,” said Timothy Geithner, U.S. Treasury Secretary.

A bill garnering bipartisan support in the Senate would treat currency manipulation as a foreign subsidy, triggering U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods.

'Illegal' measures

“China illegally subsidizes their industries," said Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York, who is a sponsor of the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act.
"They underpay their workers. They skirt environmental regulations, and ignore the tenets of global trade rule after trade rule after trade rule. They get away with economic murder.”

Schumer says China’s currency practices have cost the United States more than two million jobs over the last decade.

Also backing the bill is Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who says it is time for the United States to defend its interests.

“During these tough economic times, we ought not to allow any of our trading partners to rig the game in their favor," he said. "It is the job of American officials to defend the just and fundamental interests of the American workforce.”

Trade worries

Some U.S. industries squeezed by Chinese competition have welcomed the bill. But 50 trade groups representing many of America’s most vibrant export industries have written a letter to Senate leaders arguing the legislation would invite Chinese retaliation and should be rejected.

Trade expert Dan Ikenson of the Washington-based Cato Institute agrees.

“If we do something unilateral, we risk U.S. export sales to China and the jobs that go with it,” said Ikenson.

He says the World Trade Organization would likely reject an American bid to treat currency manipulation as a subsidy. Beyond that, Ikenson says, the bill before the Senate demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of trade in an inter-dependent, globalized economy.

“It used to be the case that it was our producers against their producers," he added. "But now we have globalization, and there is a lot of value-added from different countries in products that we import from China, that are snapped together [assembled] in China, for example. So currency values cut in many different ways.”

Ikenson warns against sabotaging a vast and increasingly-lucrative export market for the United States, something highlighted by U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner while testifying on Capitol Hill last year.

“China is now consuming more and importing more from the United States," he said. "As a result, China’s overall trade surplus has fallen sharply, by roughly half as a share of its economy. U.S. exports to China have rebounded much more rapidly than overall U.S. exports to the world.”

Chinese currency

A Chinese bank worker displays Chinese yuan at a bank in a Beijing (File Photo)
A Chinese bank worker displays Chinese yuan at a bank in a Beijing (File Photo)

The Obama administration says China’s currency remains undervalued, but has not endorsed the Senate bill. Chinese officials argue against politicizing trade issues, and point out that, in fact, the yuan has gradually appreciated in value since 2005.

That slow appreciation does not appear to satisfy U.S. lawmakers. With the 2012 general election looming, some legislators seem eager for a fight that will allow them to point fingers and assign blame for America’s economic woes.

Should the bill pass in the Democratic-led Senate, its enactment is far from certain. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has not indicated it will take up the legislation.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid