Automakers Led by Ford Link Currency Test to Trade Talks

U.S. automakers led by Ford Motor Co. are proposing ways to prevent currency manipulation as a condition for backing the Pacific-region trade accord the Obama administration is seeking to complete in coming months.

The American Automotive Policy Council, which lobbies on behalf of Ford, General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC, today urged negotiators to include a three-part test to determine whether a nation is manipulating exchange rates at the expense of U.S. producers.

The group, with allies among both political parties in Congress, has accused Japan of weakening the value of the yen to benefit its auto industry. The Washington-based council has said it won’t support the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord unless it includes currency provisions. Japan, which denies manipulating its rates, and the U.S. are two of the 12 nations seeking to complete work on the agreement in the coming months.

“The final TPP agreement must include strong and enforceable currency disciplines that allow markets and not government intervention to set exchange rates,” Matt Blunt, president of the U.S. auto group and former Republican governor of Missouri said in a statement today.

While the yen has declined about 38 percent against the dollar since reaching a high in October 2011, President Barack Obama’s administration hasn’t named Japan as a currency manipulator.

Six U.S. lawmakers led by Senators Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, and Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, wrote to Obama yesterday to ask what the administration is doing to deal with currency manipulation in U.S. trade talks. They said 290 members of Congress support their position.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman has said that while currency manipulation isn’t part of the Pacific-accord’s discussions, his office is working with U.S. groups including the auto industry and labor unions to resolve their concerns.

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