U.S. Senate May Pass Legislation on China Currency Value, 30 Senators Say

The U.S. Senate may join the House and pass a measure meant to push China to raise the value of its currency, 30 lawmakers said in a letter today to China’s Vice Premier Wang Qishan.

The senators said they want China to allow “its currency to appreciate meaningfully” before President Hu Jintao visits Washington next month. The bipartisan group of lawmakers also urged Wang to deal with U.S. concerns about trade in green- energy goods, beef, protection of copyrighted items and government procurement at a meeting in Washington this month.

“It is time for China to make progress on these issues so our two countries can continue to build a strong, mature economic relationship,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said today in a statement.

China amassed a $201 billion trade surplus with the U.S. for the first nine months of this year, more than the U.S. deficit with the next seven-largest trading partners combined, according to Commerce Department data.

Lawmakers such as Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, have said a weak Chinese yuan is one reason for the trade gap, and have pressed China to curb its purchase of dollars and let its currency rise. The House passed legislation in September letting U.S. companies petition for duties on Chinese imports to compensate for the effect of a weak yuan.

“The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation intended to address persistent currency undervaluation by U.S. trading partners, and the U.S. Senate may follow suit,” the bipartisan group of 30 lawmakers wrote. “These practices continue to raise serious concerns among members of Congress.”

Wang is scheduled to meet Dec. 14 and 15 with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk at an annual summit on commercial irritants between the nations. Currency issues aren’t part of that discussion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Drajem in Washington at mdrajem@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Geimann at sgeimann@bloomberg.net

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