A leading U.S. lawmaker says the Senate will move forward next week on legislation that aims to encourage China to raise the value of its currency as a way to strengthen the U.S. job market.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Monday the Senate will take up the bi-partisan currency legislation next week, and that he feels “very comfortable” it will be passed.
The Senate bill would require the U.S. Commerce Department to investigate if a country is undervaluing its currency, which would be regarded as a government subsidy under U.S. law. Affected U.S. companies would then be allowed to seek retaliatory tariffs on goods imported from the country.
Some analysts say China has intentionally undervalued the yuan, giving Chinese companies an unfair advantage against U.S. manufacturers.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Democrat Sherrod Brown said last week China was “cheating” when it and others manipulate their currency and keep prices of their exports artificially low on world markets. Democratic Senator Charles Schumer used more direct language, saying that China is committing “economic murder.”
Earlier this month, the Economic Policy Institute – an American economic research organization – estimated that the country’s growing trade deficit with China has eliminated or displaced nearly 2.8 million jobs since 2001.
But an editorial in China’s state-run Xinhua newspaper spoke out against the currency legislation, saying a stronger yuan “would not fundamentally change the structural problems that existed in the U.S. economy.”
China denies the allegations of currency manipulation and says it is committed to letting the yuan naturally rise or fall on global markets.
Many U.S. business groups also oppose the Senate bill, saying it would not give China any incentive to change its policies and could cause it to retaliate against U.S. goods.
The administration of President Barack Obama also opposes the bill.