(Adds comment from Japan, New Zealand)
By Krista Hughes
LAHAINA, Hawaii, July 28 Pacific Rim trading
partners might convene a top-level forum to discuss how to stop
countries manipulating currencies for competitive advantage,
Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb said on Tuesday.
Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting in Hawaii where
ministers are negotiating a 12-nation trade deal, Robb said
member countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) were
considering a U.S. proposal for a separate forum.
The United States had not suggested including currency rules
in the TTP deal, he said. U.S. officials have warned such rules
could undermine the independence of monetary policy and other
TPP partners, including Japan, are also opposed to the idea.
"It's a forum of finance ministers who will agree to
consider on a regular basis aspects of currency manipulation,"
he said in an interview.
"They are not looking to put it in as part of the TPP
treaty, they are looking ... to make use of the relationship of
the 12 countries to consider currency issues on an ongoing
basis, so we hopefully don't see the re-emergence of currency
The move would stop short of calls by U.S. automakers such
as Ford Motor Co and some U.S. lawmakers to include
sanctions against currency manipulation in the trade deal.
Weaker exchange rates make a country's exports cheaper and
give exporters a competitive advantage.
New Zealand Trade Minister Tim Groser said countries were
working to find a "sweet spot" that answers political concerns
and does not mess up monetary policy in member countries.
"We certainly know that this is a major issue of concern to
the U.S. Congress so given the importance of the United States
we will always listen carefully to any U.S. proposals," he told
Reuters. "I think we will find a way through this."
Japanese Economy Minister Akira Amari said currency concerns
should not be addressed in the TPP. "I think foreign exchange is
an issue which the International Monetary Fund and currency
authorities should discuss," he said, when asked for Japan's
view on the proposal.
U.S. officials were not immediately available to comment.
(Additional reporting by Ami Miyazaki; Editing by Louise