In Advance of China State Visit, Sens. Brown and Snowe Announce Plans to Introduce Bipartisan Legislation Addressing Chinese Currency Manipulation

In Letter to Geithner, Senators Urge Implementation of Trade Remedy Laws to Combat Unfairly Subsidized Imports Senators: Currency Manipulation Hurts Manufacturers in Ohio, Maine and Across America

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In advance of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) today sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announcing plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to address China’s unlawful practice of currency manipulation.

 “Congress has delayed passage of legislation to address Chinese currency manipulation, but Ohio manufacturers and workers struggling to compete against unfairly subsidized imports can’t afford to wait any longer,” Brown said. “There’s bipartisan consensus that if we want to get our economy back on track, we must act—and act now—to penalize countries like China that violate global trade laws.”

 “The challenges facing workers and manufacturers due to currency manipulation—particularly those in trade-sensitive jobs like Maine’s paper production industry—are growing more severe with each passing day these practices are not addressed. In addition to the imperative diplomatic meetings taking place this week between U.S. and Chinese officials, the bill I plan to introduce with Senator Brown will help ensure our government has the tools needed for effectively combating unfairly subsidized imports and providing a critical lifeline to American workers who for years have struggled in the face of excessive currency market manipulation,” Snowe said.

 The senators plan to introduce legislations similar to the 111th Congress bill H.R. 2378, the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act, which passed the House of Representatives last September by a vote of 348-79. The legislation, which directs the U.S. Department of Commerce to treat currency undervaluation as a prohibited export subsidy, would ensure the government is equipped to respond on behalf of American workers and manufacturers by imposing countervailing duties on subsidized exports from countries like China.

 Senators Brown and Snowe have been leaders in efforts to pass a bipartisan bill addressing Chinese currency manipulation. In December, the senators filed Chinese currency legislation as an amendment to the tax extenders legislation. The same month, Brown authored an op-ed urging passage of legislation to address China’s currency manipulation. Previously, Brown and Snowe had also sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urging action before the Senate adjourned for the year on the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act.

The full text of the letter is below.

January 18, 2011

The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner

Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20220

 Dear Mr. Secretary:

 We are encouraged by your recent remarks on the United States-China economic relationship, particularly as it relates to China’s management of its exchange rate which maintains a substantially undervalued currency.

 China’s actions to subsidize its exports through currency manipulation pose both immediate and long-term challenges to American manufacturers and workers still recovering from the economic recession. We recognize the Chinese government recently allowed its currency to begin to appreciate. But as you rightly point out, the path towards its currency appreciating to a true market-based value remains long. Until that happens, we believe the fair implementation of trade remedy laws is required to provide industries a life-line to compete. If one manufacturer is forced to close because we fail to combat subsidized imports, that is one less manufacturer able to export and help grow our economy.

 In the coming weeks, we intend to introduce legislation in the Senate to address the unlawful practice of currency manipulation and to penalize violators of our global trade rules. We look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure a level playing field so that American companies may compete in the global marketplace and hire American workers.

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Press Contact

Brown: (202) 224-3978

Snowe: (202) 224-5344