Trade rep on currency in the TPP: "Not as of yet"

Posted by mmcmullan on 05/01/2014

President Obama has finished up his trip through Asia, which began last week with a visit to Japan. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement was way up on the agenda as the president sat down with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but the leaders parted without securing a deal.

But those aren’t the only the talks going on. The administration’s top trade negotiator, Michael Froman, made the case for the TPP today in front of a sometimes-skeptical Senate Finance Committee.

Some were more skeptical than others. Queue New York Senator Chuck Schumer:

Strong language on currency manipulation is a vital first step to earning Democratic support to passing TPP in the Senate. We'll have to look at every aspect of the deal. But I think nothing can give TPP a fighting chance of being passed more than strong currency reforms.

The Obama administration thinks bringing up currency will scuttle the talks, and they’ve deferred the issue to the Treasury Department on the regular. But the Treasury Department consistently passes on answering the currency question, too. In fact, Treasury twists itself in knots to not name anyone a currency manipulator despite ample evidence of the practice.

So Schumer asked Froman if a currency rule has even been discussed in the TPP negotiations.

“Not as of yet,” the trade representative said.

That’s unfortunate. Majorites in both the House and Senate want such a rule. It’ll be interesting to see how far the TPP will go on Capitol Hill without one.

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