Rep. Miller: America must fight currency manipulation

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller

Soon after Congress reconvenes next month, negotiators from the U.S. House and Senate will send to the full Congress customs legislation setting new rules for promoting trans-national trade and protecting our industry and interests.

I expect to support the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, in no small part because it will contain long overdue provisions I negotiated to identify and deal with nations which manipulate their currency to the detriment of the United States and American workers.

Currency manipulation, the practice of artificially undervaluing a nation's currency to promote its own exports and inflate the cost of imports, is the dark underbelly of free trade. And it has, for decades, unfairly limited the overseas market share of American manufacturers. No one understands this better than the residents of Southeast Michigan. Currency manipulation by some of the most egregious offenders — China, Japan and South Korea — has curtailed overseas sales by domestic automakers while flooding the U.S. market with cheaper imports and has had a devastating impact on our region and the domestic manufacturing generally.

The new customs bill will, for the first time, set specific criteria to define currency manipulation and require the U.S. Treasury to publicly report manipulators. Further, the legislation requires the executive branch to engage with violators and take action against those who refuse to enact corrective measures.

Importantly, the anti-manipulation protections will apply across the board, to all countries with whom we trade, whether or not that trade is conducted within the framework of a formal agreement like NAFTA or the Trans Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated.

Presidents from both political parties have traditionally opposed cracking down on currency manipulation out of fear that to do so could trigger a protectionist trade war or interfere with important diplomatic or national security initiatives. This measure, which preserves executive latitude for dealing with trading partners upon whom we depend for national security, will do neither.

For that reason, I am confident the Obama administration will endorse it as well.

I am also confident strong majorities in both the House and Senate will embrace this new approach to dealing with currency manipulators and at long last put our trading partners on notice that we will not stand by idly if they seek to game the marketplace.

Achieving these new protections required painstaking negotiation, and I am grateful for the cooperation of House Ways and Means Committee chairman Paul Ryan, and the efforts of our own Congressman Dave Trott, a tireless advocate for our home team.

But what I am most thankful for is that Congress is poised to give the highly-skilled, hardworking and patriotic Americans who make things the world wants to buy the chance they deserve to compete on a level playing field.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Shelby Twp., represents Michigan’s 10th District.