Markets News

US lawmakers to renew push for China currency bill

WASHINGTON, May 12 (Reuters) - A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers will make another effort this year to curb imports from China by allowing U.S. companies to seek duties on goods from countries that manipulate their currency.

Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, and Senator Jim Bunning, a Kentucky Republican, plan to introduce legislation on Wednesday.

Representatives Tim Ryan, an Ohio Democrat, and Representative Tim Murphy and a Pennsylvania Republican, will introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives.

The legislation would allow companies to ask the government to impose anti-dumping and countervailing duties on imports from any country whose currency have been “misaligned” for a prolonged period of time, as the lawmakers contend that China’s has been.

They will be joined at a press conference by members of the Fair Currency Coalition, an alliance of steel, textile, labor groups who blame China’s currency practices for losses in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

“By illegally subsidizing its exports through the undervaluation of its currency by 30 percent or more, China has distorted their gains from trade, created barriers to free and fair trade, harmed U.S. industries, and has destroyed millions of U.S. jobs,” the lawmakers said in a press release announcing their news conference.

Ryan, working from former Representative Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, introduced similar bills in both 2005 and 2007 that failed to become law.

Stabenow and Bunning have worked together in the Senate on currency legislation with the same lack of success.

Last month, President Barack Obama’s Treasury Department declined to formally label China as a currency manipulator after Obama raised expectations last year that he would.

The U.S. trade deficit with China hit a record $266.3 billion in 2008. However, the gap has fallen slightly in the first three months of 2009, as weaker demand amid a recession has cut China’s exports to the United States by nearly 11 percent.

Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama