Sunday, September 19, 2010

China trade practices angering Congress

WASHINGTON - Congress is pressuring the Obama administration to take a tougher stand with China over trade practices that lawmakers say have cost Americans millions of jobs.

Both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Banking Committee told Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Thursday that China is manipulating its currency.

They said that and other practices have led to a huge trade gap between the two countries and job losses in the United States.

Geithner said the administration is ready to work with Congress on an effective strategy. But he cautioned senators to consider that the government should take a measured approach that does not harm U.S. economic interests with an important trading partner.

Senators were frustrated because the administration failed to cite China as a currency manipulator in its latest report. Instead, the White House took the same position as previous administrations in simply urging China to move faster to allow its currency to rise in value against the dollar.

American manufacturers contend that the Chinese currency is undervalued by as much as 40 percent.

That has given Chinese companies a tremendous competitive advantage, making U.S. products more expensive in China and Chinese goods cheaper in the United States.

Under a 1988 law, the Treasury Department is required to submit a currency report to Congress every six months and cite any country that it finds is manipulating its currency to gain trade advantages.

A number of senators complained that the Obama administration, like previous administrations, failed to identify China as a manipulator.

"At a time when the U.S. economy is trying to pick itself up off the ground, China's currency manipulation is like a boot to the throat of our recovery," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

"This administration refuses to try and take that boot off our neck," Schumer added.

Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the panel, both said they have grown frustrated listening to a string of administrations refuse to cite China as a currency manipulator.

by Martin Crutsinger Associated Press Sept. 17, 2010 12:00 AM

China trade practices angering Congress

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