U.S. automakers call for currency rule in Pacific trade pact

WASHINGTON Thu Jan 9, 2014 10:00am EST

WASHINGTON Jan 9 (Reuters) - American automakers on Thursday urged that rules against currency manipulation be included in a trade pact being negotiated with Pacific Rim trading partners.

The American Automotive Policy Council, which represents Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, said countries signing the agreement should commit to not manipulating their exchange rates to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

U.S. automakers worry that Japanese competitors may gain an edge in the American market, especially if existing trade restrictions are loosened under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which negotiators hope to finalize in coming months.

If a TPP member breaches the currency rules, tariff benefits under the pact would be suspended for at least a year, the automakers said in their proposal.

"The final TPP agreement must include strong and enforceable currency disciplines that allow markets and not government intervention to set exchange rates," said Matt Blunt, president of the council.

Countries negotiating the TPP include Mexico, Canada, Australia and Malaysia, along with Japan and the United States.

Details of a bill to give the White House fast-track power to seal free trade agreements, seen as crucial to the success of the TPP, are due to be announced later on Thursday and are also expected to include a section on currency manipulation. (Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Bernadette Baum)