UPDATE 1-U.S. automakers call for currency rule in Pacific trade pact

Thu Jan 9, 2014 12:26pm EST
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By Elvina Nawaguna and Krista Hughes

WASHINGTON Jan 9 (Reuters) - American automakers on Thursday pushed for rules against currency manipulation to be included in an ambitious trade pact being negotiated between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries.

The American Automotive Policy Council, which represents Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, said participating nations should commit to not manipulating their exchange rates to gain an unfair competitive advantage.

U.S. automakers worry that Japanese competitors may gain an edge in the American market, especially if existing trade restrictions are loosened under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which negotiators hope to finalize in coming months.

"Even the most promising trade pacts can be undermined by currency manipulation," Matt Blunt, president of the council, told reporters on a conference call. "The final TPP agreement must include strong and enforceable currency disciplines that allow markets and not government intervention to set exchange rates."

The council's proposal would require TPP countries to be transparent with information that includes their foreign exchange holdings and interventions to purchase foreign assets.

If a TPP member is found breaching the currency rules, the automakers' proposal would allow member countries to suspend the tariff benefits of the offending country for at least a year.

The group said its proposal would not impede any TPP country from having an independent monetary policy, and would not prevent central banks from pursuing the bond-buying stimulus programs that have been employed in the United States and Japan. Those programs have been criticized from some quarters for weakening currencies.   Continued...