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Brown takes aim at China

June 7, 2013

Sherrod Brown

Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is reintroducing a bill this week which is again aimed at countering the economic harm to U.S. workers and manufacturers caused by foreign countries manipulating their currency.
The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2013 would provide consequences for countries that fail to adopt appropriate policies to eliminate practices to manipulate their currency, which artificially decreases the price on exports to the United States and increases the cost of American made goods imported by those countries.
“I believe Ohio workers and Ohio companies can compete with anyone but when countries manipulate their currencies to give their exports an unfair price advantage over American made products then it is not competing — it is cheating,” Brown said Thursday during a media teleconference. “As our trade deficit continues to widen, our need to level the playing field for American manufacturers and workers becomes more urgent.
“Yet instead of taking action, we’re pursuing trade deals with countries that manipulate currencies,” the U.S. legislator said of the bill being introduced by him and U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, of Alabama. “Our bipartisan bill would create jobs by leveling the playing field for American manufacturers — at no cost to taxpayers.”
The top 20 countries accused of manipulating their currencies are named in a recent Congressional report. They include China and three other countries to be included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade agreement being negotiated now.
“I am introducing this as a jobs bill to treat currency manipulation as the trade subsidy that it is,” Brown said. “The legislation establishes new criteria for the Treasury Department to identify countries that misalign their currency and triggers tougher consequences for those who engage in such unfair trade practices. It will allow for industries harmed by those involved in currency manipulation to seek relief much like they do for export subsidies which several industries in Ohio have sought successfully.”
Bill Adler, the president of Stripmatic Products Inc. in Cleveland, and the board chair for the Precision Metalforming Association, discussed how currency manipulation and unfair and illegal trade practices have hurt his business and others across Ohio, and how Brown’s bill would help to improve this problem.
“U.S. manufacturers can compete with anyone in the world when the competition is fair,” Adler said. “This bipartisan legislation is targeted at those countries that manipulate their currency to give themselves an unfair and illegal advantage against U.S. manufacturers that result in job losses here in the U.S.”
According to Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) certifications since 2011, which were obtained through the U.S. Department of Labor, Auglaize County lost 366 jobs due to currency manipulation.
TAA is a federal program that provides aid to workers who petition and are certified they lost their jobs or whose work hours and wages are reduced as a result of increased imports from foreign competitors.
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that addressing currency manipulation could support the creation of 2.25 million American jobs.
EPI also estimates that ending currency manipulation would increase Ohio’s jobs total by between nearly 95,000 and nearly 200,000, increase Ohio’s gross domestic product by between $8.26 billion and $17.41 billion, and increase Ohioans’ salaries by between $4.72 billion and $9.94 billion.
A December 2012 report by the Peterson Institute for International Economics concluded that currency manipulation by foreign governments had cost the U.S. from 1 million to 5 million jobs and increased the U.S. trade deficit by $200 billion to $500 billion per year.
Brown’s last attempt to pass a similar bill passed the Senate but failed to be put up for a vote as it did not gain the favor of House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester, who cited President Barack Obama did not like the bill. Obama is currently meeting with Chinese President Xi.

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