March 27, 2006

Senators set press conference for Tuesday on China

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. senators who have been
pushing China to revalue its currency have scheduled a news
conference for Tuesday, after they meet with U.S. Treasury
Secretary John Snow, to discuss their next steps.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, and Sen. Lindsey
Graham, a South Carolina Republican, are authors of bill
threatening China with a 27.5 percent tariff on its exports to
the United States if it does not revalue the yuan.

They have been promised a vote by Friday on the legislation
opposed by the Bush administration and many U.S. business
groups under a deal worked out in the Senate last year.

The two senators have just returned from China where they
met with high-level Chinese officials on the currency issue.
Many U.S. lawmakers and manufacturers believe the yuan is
undervalued by as much as 15 to 40 percent, giving Chinese
companies an unfair advantage over U.S. companies.

The Graham-Schumer bill survived an attempt to kill it in
the Senate by a vote of 67-33 about one year ago, sending the
Bush administration a wake up call about the level of anger in
Congress about China's currency practices.

Since then, Graham and Schumer have agreed several times to
delay scheduled votes on their bill in order to give China more
time to act on its own.

The senators will meet with Snow, the Bush administration's
point man on currency issues, at 1100 Eastern time on Tuesday.
They have scheduled a press conference for 1145, where they are
expected to announce plans for their bill.

Many people expect the senators to put off a vote at least
until after Chinese President Hu Jintao visits Washington on
April 20. Schumer hinted at that possibility last week.

Meanwhile, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate
Finance Committee will unveil an alternative China trade bill
on Tuesday. That legislation is expected to draw some support
from the Graham-Schumer bill.