Members of the state’s congressional delegation are blasting the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s decision not to tag China as a currency manipulator.

An anticipated Treasury foreign exchange report released this week acknowledged that the Chinese yuan was undervalued, but the Obama administration stopped short of accusing labeling China a currency manipulator. The issue has been taken up by some congressional lawmakers who believe the currency’s low market value is doubling as a trade subsidy for Chinese exporters while costing American jobs.

The value of the yuan has been a concern for labor and manufacturing groups such as the Alliance for American Manufacturing. The organization also represents the interests of Maine paper companies.

On Tuesday, AAM Director Scott Paul slammed the Treasury report.

“I’m disappointed that President Obama has now formally refused to cite China six times for its currency manipulation, a practice which has contributed to the loss of hundreds of thousands of American manufacturing jobs,” Paul said in a statement.

The issue of the yuan’s value has been a concern for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, who believes China is robbing the U.S. of its factories and manufacturing jobs.

“The Treasury Department outlines in the report all of the reasons China should be identified as undervaluing their currency, but they refuse to state the obvious,” Michaud said in a statement.

Despite some saber-rattling between Obama and the Chinese government, the administration has refused to take the hard line advocated by members of Congress.

It recently maintained that it’s in China’s interest to increase the value of the yuan.

The Treasury report, however, said that while China has made progress, the yuan has encountered “persistent and substantial undervaluation.”

Michaud, earlier this year co-sponsored a House bill that would force the administration to label China a currency manipulator and assess penalties. U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Susan Collins, co-sponsored a companion bill that was ratified by the Senate in October.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has so far declined to bring the bill to the floor for consideration.

Snowe, in a written statement, said the report “failed to state plainly what American workers already know:” that currency manipulation put U.S.-made products at a competitive disadvantage.

Snowe said House leadership should pass, H.R. 639, which would direct the Commerce Department to investigate allegations that the undervalued yuan provides an illegal subsidy to foreign producers.

Snowe said China’s currency hurt Maine manufacturing. 

“These are the types of jobs that should be thriving in a global economy — but they cannot if our government is unwilling to enforce our existing trade policies and hold our foreign competitors to account,” Snowe said.

Collins, in a statement, said it was “inexplicable” that the president “failed to defend American workers.”

It’s unclear if GOP leadership will take up the House bill next year. The legislation has broad bipartisan support and 230 co-sponsors, including U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine.

The Treasury’s decision follows the precedent of the Bush administration, which was also confronted with the issue. The U.S. has not tagged a country as a currency manipulator since China was issued that status in 1994.

According to several news reports published earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has argued that the semi-annual foreign exchange report isn’t as useful a negotiating tool as direct diplomacy with the Chinese.

Michaud said the administration’s “diplomatic song and dance” was shuttering American companies.

Nonetheless, Obama has attempted to pressure China to speed up its valuation of the yuan before a summit with Chinese officials earlier this year.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has thus far declined to change his country’s currency policy, saying that doing so won’t solve the U.S. trade deficit or its other economic problems.

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