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Ford, others say trade deal lacks currency protections

It looks like President Obama and his supporters have declared victory a little too soon with the signing of the new Trans-Pacific Partnership.

From the Detroit Free Press

The Obama administration and negotiators from 11 Pacific Rim nations announced an agreement, in principle, for a sweeping trade deal, but critics — including Ford — were quick to complain that it doesn’t do enough to address currency manipulation, which many see as a huge barrier to American auto sales in some Asian countries.

On Monday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced that discussions on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) had concluded, setting the stage for finalizing a trade deal that could impact nearly 40% of the global economy. In a statement, President Barack Obama said it will help farmers, ranchers and manufacturers by getting rid of more than 18,000 taxes that various countries involved in the deal put on American-made products and secure  commitments on labor and the environment.

But critics, especially those from Michigan and the industrial Midwest, argued that the deal does too little to address currency manipulation in some Asian countries, which can keep those countries’ autos and other products artificially less expensive while increasing the price of American goods.

While a fact sheet on the deal from the White House said the Trans-Pacific Partnership eliminates import taxes, which in some cases have been as high as 70% on American automotive products exported to those nations, it failed to mention currency at all. A provision was added to a bill earlier this year saying that addressing unfair currency practices was a “principal negotiating objective,” though it did not mandate the practices being part of the deal. The White House said that would hurt the deal’s chances of being completed.

Ziad Ojakli, Ford’s group vice president for government and community relations, recommended Congress reject the TPP in its current form.

“Ford supports free-trade agreements that result in real market openings and a level playing field for all to compete,” he said. “Within the U.S. Congress, there is bipartisan consensus that currency manipulation needs to be meaningfully addressed. This summer, U.S. lawmakers took unprecedented action to set a clear negotiating objective for addressing currency manipulation in all future trade deals. The TPP fails to meet that test.”

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