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Last Updated: Apr 18, 2014 - 7:55:08 AM 

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National

Weakening yen puts American workers at a sharp disadvantage
By Dan Rafter Office of Rep Michaud
Apr 18, 2014 - 7:55:02 AM

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WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressman Mike Michaud (D-ME), Chairman of the House Trade Working Group, sent a letter to President Obama urging the president to directly address currency manipulation of the yen with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on his upcoming trip to Asia. Earlier this week, a report from the U.S. Department of the Treasury found that the yen depreciated 25 percent from October 2012 to February 2014 -- creating clear disadvantages for American workers and businesses.

"There's no question that the decreasing value of the yen hurts American businesses and, more importantly, hurts the average American worker," said Michaud. "Currency protections that safeguard against manipulation are central to any trade agreement. President Obama has an opportunity to directly engage with Prime Minister Abe on his government's ongoing effort to devalue the yen, and I certainly hope he raises the issue and conveys why it is so unacceptable."

Members on both sides of the aisle support efforts to advance meaningful currency protections in future trade agreements. In fact, 230 House members and 60 Senators are on the record calling for greater engagement from the White House on the issue.

The full text of Michaud's letter to Obama is below and available online here.

The 2008 Obama letter Michaud references is available here.

April 16, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama
President
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC

Dear Mr. President:

As you prepare for your upcoming visit to Japan, I am writing to urge you to raise the issue of currency manipulation with Prime Minister Abe.

Between Japan's reported unwillingness to open up their agricultural and auto markets, and the prime minister's public assertions while running that he would actively work to weaken the yen, it is imperative that you raise currency manipulation with him during your talks. The yen has fallen over 20 percent against the dollar since Mr. Abe took office in late 2012, and it was the worst performing among the G10 currencies last year losing more than 1/5 of its value against the dollar.

Currency manipulation remains a serious issue with our existing trade agreements, and 230 members of the House and 60 members of the Senate are on record in support of ensuring that strong currency protections are in place in any new trade agreement and that every trade agreement provide strong enforcement mechanisms against currency manipulation as well.

In 2008, in a letter to US Steelworkers President Leo Gerard, you noted that as president you would "insist that our trade deals include prohibitions against illegal subsidies and currency manipulation and other trade practices that hurt American workers and firms" and went on to say that you felt "one of the signal failures of the Bush Administration has been its failure to counteract China's manipulation of the yuan."

Given the strong concerns expressed by members of congress on both sides of the aisle and the Capitol, I hope you will address the critical issue of currency manipulation during your visit to Japan.

Sincerely,

Michael H. Michaud

Member of Congress


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