House votes 348-79 to authorize punishing renminbi undervaluation


The measure would allow, but not require, the U.S. to levy tariffs on countries that undervalue their currencies. The bipartisan support highlights lawmakers’ long-simmering frustration with Chinese trade practices as well as their sensitivity to the faltering economic recovery with elections looming. It’s the strongest trade measure aimed at China to make it through a body of Congress after more than a decade of legislative threats by U.S. lawmakers…

Under the measure, the U.S. Department of Commerce would be directed to consider whether Chinese currency practices amount to an unfair subsidy in cases brought by industries competing with Beijing. If Commerce made such a determination, it could assess levies on goods imported from China or other countries with undervalued currencies.

But the measure, which was revised in a Ways and Means committee vote earlier this month, doesn’t require Commerce to make such a determination. The change in language, said Scott Lincicome, a trade lawyer at White & Case, gives the administration “a way to say no” to U.S. industries and could signal to China that the U.S. isn’t looking to declare a trade war over currency practices…

Despite the wide support the currency bill received in the House, it will be difficult for the measure to become law this year. China critics in the Senate plan to press for legislation when lawmakers return to Washington after the elections, but that would involve a separate proposal and the window for legislation to move before year-end is expected to be narrow.

Business Insider profiles the 10 states that export the most to China (“The 10 States About To Get Crushed In A US-China Trade War”), but because they use exports rather than exports per worker, California is #1, unsurprisingly.