BALTIMORE (Reuters) - The Obama administration has
not determined yet whether various proposals in Congress aimed
at pressuring China to revalue its currency are legal under
World Trade Organization rules, the top U.S. trade official
"It's not a clear call," U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk
told reporters at an event at the Port of Baltimore to talk
about the importance of exports to U.S economic growth.
He noted there were various versions of China currency
legislation being considered in Congress, complicating the task
of assessing whether any individual approach was consistent
with global trade rules.
Last week, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner told
lawmakers at hearings in the House of Representatives and
Senate that the Obama administration could only support
legislation to pressure China to revalue its currency if it was
consistent with WTO rules and if the benefits of passing such a
bill outweighed the risks.
But with pressure building on Congress to deal with the
issue, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin
said he planned to talk with Democratic leaders and others over
the weekend to discuss whether to move legislation.
That prompted senior Republicans on the Ways and Means
panel to send Kirk a letter asking specifically if one popular
House bill, known as Ryan-Murphy, was consistent with WTO rules
because it appeared potentially on a fast track to approval.
Kirk told reporters on Monday it was ultimately up to
Congress to decide whether to pass currency legislation. But if
it does act, it is important that bill is consistent with WTO
He declined to say whether there might be a case for the
United States to challenge China's currency practices as
violation of WTO rules, as some members of Congress and experts
"It is not in our interest to talk about potential
litigation in the WTO," Kirk told reporters.
(Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Jerry Norton)