The Candidates and The World

Transition 2012

A guide to foreign policy and the 2012 U.S. presidential transition.

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China Update: Portman Says Romney Would Get Tough

by Newsteam Staff
June 28, 2012

A bank clerk counts U.S. dollar banknotes on bundles of 100 Chinese yuan banknotes in Huaibei, Anhui province April 26, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters). A bank clerk counts U.S. dollar banknotes on bundles of 100 Chinese yuan banknotes in Huaibei, Anhui province April 26, 2012 (Courtesy Reuters).

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), former U.S. trade representative for the Bush administration, said this week that GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney would get tougher with China (Reuters) on its trade and currency practices and move aggressively to open up more foreign markets for U.S. exports to boost the economy.

Portman, a Romney campaign surrogate and presumed vice presidential contender, also defended Romney who has come under fire for a campaign pledge to declare China a currency manipulator on his first day in office.

He said Romney would balance his push for more free trade agreements with a tough trade enforcement agenda, focusing especially on China. “He’s for immediately changing our trade policy to access the 95 percent of consumers that live outside of our borders by being aggressive on trade openings,” Portman said. “He’d get trade promotion authority from Congress and then begin serious negotiations to open up markets.”

Bloomberg’s Al Hunt writes that Romney’s opinions may not draw votes (NYT) from U.S. business owners but drive a wedge between the candidate and those who fear a provoked Beijing would retaliate. “Most large U.S. companies favor economic engagement with China and abhor any possibility of a trade war,” Hunt says. “Although it isn’t unusual for a presidential candidate to bash China during the campaign, Romney has taken this sport to a new level and may be more serious.”

For more on the candidates’ stances, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on The Candidates on U.S. Policy toward China.

Suggested Other Reading:

This CFR Backgrounder looks at U.S. trade policy, trade and U.S. global competitiveness, and the persistent debate over a vigorous free trade agenda.

Brookings’ Eswar Prasad explains the current valuation of China’s currency (FT), the renminbi or yuan, its value relative to the U.S. dollar, and says the West should be more interested in the flexibility of China’s currency than its price.

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