Senators press for currency manipulation provisions in Asia-Pacific trade deal

Two senators reiterated on Wednesday the importance of adding currency manipulation provisions into an Asia-Pacific trade deal.

Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), co-chairmen of the bipartisan Senate Manufacturing Caucus, continued to press the Obama administration as to whether the issue will be addressed in the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks. 

In a letter to President Obama on Wednesday, Stabenow and Graham wrote that they have serious concerns "that strong and enforceable currency disciplines have not yet been addressed in the ongoing negotiations and may not be included in the final agreement."

A majority of lawmakers in the House and Senate support adding provisions into the agreement, and all future trade deal, in an effort to ensure that countries involved with the deals don't gain a global trade advantage by undervaluing their currencies. 

"A well-negotiated TPP has the potential to help American businesses and workers, but an agreement that fails to address foreign currency manipulation could further harm the United States economy by leading to a permanent unfair trade relationship," they wrote.

On Thursday, the American Automotive Policy Council (AAPC), which represents the nation's automakers, along with leading experts on currency manipulation will announce a proposal for TPP. 

Lawmakers as well as business, labor and trade leaders outlined that plan in November during a meeting on Capitol Hill on how the issue should be addressed in the trade deals to minimize friction between trading partners. 

In September, Stabenow and Graham led 60 of their Senate colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter urging Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to press for the issue during trade talks.

A bipartisan House majority, 230 lawmakers, sent a similar letter in June. 

"Thus far, United States trade negotiators have failed to propose currency disciplines in any TPP negotiating rounds, and our written concerns have gone unanswered," they wrote.  

Froman has said he is not sure if the issue will come up in future talks over the TPP.

The senators said "we expect our concerns to be addressed in a strong and effective manner" because "we cannot conclude a truly ambitious trade agreement without the inclusion of strong and enforceable currency provisions."

"We believe the Administration has had adequate time not only for internal deliberations about such provisions, but also to negotiate them with our trading partners."