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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable Timothy J. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow led colleagues from both sides of the aisle today in calling on the Obama Administration to aggressively stand up to ongoing Chinese attempts to gain illegal trade advantage over America. The message to the Administration comes as world leaders prepare to gather at tomorrow's G-20 meeting in Washington.

In a letter Sen. Stabenow authored to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Senators urged the Secretary to confront the Chinese on their manipulation of their currency (the RMB) in order to artificially make Chinese goods less expensive than similar American-made products. China's currency manipulation, a violation of international trade law, is a major contributor to America's $273 billion trade deficit with China and costs the United States thousands of jobs each year.

Currency manipulation is particularly harmful to states with economies dependent on manufacturing, such as Michigan. Michigan Senator Carl Levin was among those who partnered with Sen. Stabenow in urging the Administration to act.

In their letter, the Senators say of China's illegal action on currency: "For too long, this issue has festered, harming not only American companies and workers, but also the economy of every country that meets its International Monetary Fund (IMF) commitments to allow the level of its currency to be determined by markets.... China's illegal practices make Chinese-produced goods cheaper than similar products made in America, driving up our trade deficit with China and putting Americans out of work. The United States' trade deficit with China reached a staggering $273 billion last year, costing our country thousands of jobs."

The Senators' letter concludes: "We urge you to work together with all countries harmed by currency manipulation to press China to allow the level of the RMB to be determined by markets, not government interventions. When everyone plays by the same rules, our entrepreneurs and workers can compete and win in the global economy."

The full text of Sen. Stabenow's letter follows:

April 14, 2011

The Honorable Timothy J. Geithner

Secretary of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20220

Dear Mr. Secretary,

We write to urge you to make fundamental currency misalignment a central issue at the G-20 meeting in Washington, DC this week. For too long, this issue has festered, harming not only American companies and workers, but also the economy of every country that meets its International Monetary Fund (IMF) commitments to allow the level of its currency to be determined by markets.

The consistent interference of a few countries in currency markets creates an uneven global playing field, perversely encouraging other countries to intervene as well. The resulting currency misalignments distort global markets, creating instability at a time when the world can ill afford it.

While multiple countries are guilty of currency manipulation, China unfortunately stands out from the rest. Its mercantilist policies occur on a grand scale. In the fourth quarter of 2010, China intervened in currency markets by purchasing $2 billion worth of foreign currency a day, adding $199 billion to its foreign currency reserves. Not surprisingly, in its recent 2011 Global Economic Outlook, the IMF calls the RMB "substantially weaker than warranted" and finds a "key motivation for the acquisition of foreign exchange reserves seems to be to prevent nominal exchange rate appreciation and preserve competitiveness."

China's policies work as intended: The RMB has had almost no appreciation against the dollar since May 2008. China's illegal practices make Chinese-produced goods cheaper than similar products made in America, driving up our trade deficit with China and putting Americans out of work. The United States' trade deficit with China reached a staggering $273 billion last year, costing our country thousands of jobs.

The IMF cites the accumulation of official foreign exchange reserves as "an important obstacle to global demand rebalancing." Removing this obstacle should be a key U.S. priority. Ironically, China's refusal to allow the RMB to appreciate in a meaningful way is contrary to its own best interest. Economists agree that China needs to rebalance its economy to rely more on domestic consumption than on export-led growth. This necessary rebalancing would ultimately tame Chinese inflation, improve global economic growth, and remove a key barrier to a more fruitful U.S.-China relationship.

The United States does no one a favor by downplaying this crucial issue. We urge you to work together with all countries harmed by currency manipulation to press China to allow the level of the RMB to be determined by markets, not government interventions. When everyone plays by the same rules, our entrepreneurs and workers can compete and win in the global economy.

Sincerely,

Sen. Debbie Stabenow

Sen. Sherrod Brown

Sen. Olympia Snowe

Sen. Carl Levin

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

Sen. Bob Casey

Sen. Benjamin Cardin

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand

Sen. Jack Reed

Sen. Richard Blumenthal


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