U.S. Lawmakers Target China in Tax Bill

Senator Snowe charged that paper producers in her home state of Maine 'have been harmed by China's mercantilist trade practices.'

Two U.S. Senators on Dec, 13 sought to attach legislation targeting China over alleged currency manipulation to a bill championed by President Barack Obama to avert a massive New Year's tax cut.

Republican Olympia Snowe and Democrat Sherrod Brown said they had introduced the "Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act" as an amendment to the tax measure, which was expected to clear a critical test vote later in the day.

Their measure would direct the Commerce Department to treat deliberate currency undervaluation as a forbidden export subsidy, paving the way to countervailing duties on exports from the offending country.

Snowe charged that paper producers in her home state of Maine "have been harmed by China's mercantilist trade practices" -- specifically, Beijing's alleged efforts to keep its currency, and thus its exports, artificially cheap.

"Unfortunately, the silence of our government on currency manipulation has become the silence of our factories," she said.

"Addressing Chinese currency manipulation is vital to getting our economy back on track," said Brown, who labeled China "a country that refuses to play by the rules when it comes to trade."

The China measure's fate was unclear: While the House of Representatives easily approved the bill by a 348-79 margin in September, the White House has resisted formal action against Beijing on the currency front.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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