Murphy, Casey call for tough stance on China currency

By:  Malia Spencer

Members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation are calling on President Obama to take a hard line with China over currency manipulation and unfair trade practices during Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit.

The Congressional Steel Caucus, chaired by Pennsylvania Republican Tim Murphy, issued a letter to the president urging him to tell Hu “that China’s illegal trade practices will no longer be tolerated.”

Rep. Murphy has been pushing currency reform legislation that would give the U.S. greater flexibility to levy countervailing duties on imports that benefit from an exporting country’s currency practices. Last year, such a bill introduced by Murphy and Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan passed the House, but a companion bill died in the Senate.

“We need to hold accountable those countries that repeatedly flaunt their obligations under international trade mandates,” Murphy said in a written statement. “I urge the President to stay true to his promises to stand up on behalf of American manufacturing against Beijing’s persistent currency devaluation and dumping of inferior steel onto our shores.”

In the letter, Murphy and the caucus contend that the Chinese currency is devalued by as much as 40 percent, which makes Chinese exports cheaper and American imports more expensive. The letter also calls attention to unfair trade practices such as dumping steel pipe and plate and renewable energy products.

“Steel made in America supports 1.2 million jobs, adds $350 billion to our national economy, and has built America and the world. These are jobs that make steel, supply the resources to make steel, and make things out of steel — from the smallest medical device to skyscrapers to satellites. But these jobs and the families who depend on them are all at risk unless we stand up for steel. We hope you will do so without qualification when you meet with President Hu,” the letter states.

Other Pennsylvania member of the Steel Caucus include Reps Jason Altmire, Mark Critz, Mike Doyle, and Tim Holden.

In addition to the Steel Caucus letter, Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey also wrote to the president asking that China’s intellectual property rights and currency valuation practices be a focal point of talks.

This week, Sens Casey, Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced legislation addressing currency misalignments, such as China’s, that unfairly impact U.S. trade.

“China’s currency manipulation has contributed to job loss and weakened economic growth in Pennsylvania and across the country,” Casey said in a written statement. “China has been allowed to develop an unfair advantage while going virtually unchecked. A comprehensive approach is required to level the playing field for Pennsylvania workers and employers.”

The proposed legislation would require the Treasury to determine whether a currency is being manipulated based solely on exchange rates and removes intent as a criteria for determination. Additionally, the proposed law would allow penalties to be imposed more quickly.