WASHINGTON — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney unveiled an economic plan Tuesday that included imposing sanctions on China over its undervalued currency, submitting three pending trade agreements to Congress and reducing the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent.
Romney, who is being strongly challenged by Texas Gov. Rick Perry for the GOP nomination in next year’s presidential race, released the comprehensive plan in North Las Vegas while on the campaign trail, and in advance of President Obama’s speech before a joint session of Congress on Thursday.
According to a fact sheet provided by Romney’s campaign, the former Massachusetts governor would sign an executive order to sanction China for unfair trade practices. The executive order would direct the Treasury Department to name China a “currency manipulator” in its biannual report to Congress, which could lead to sanctions at the World Trade Organization. Romney would also direct the Commerce Department to assess countervailing duties on Chinese imports if China does not quickly move to allow its currency to appreciate.
Some have criticized Obama, as they did President George W. Bush, for not moving more aggressively against China, which many critics in Congress argue undervalues its currency by as much as 40 percent to gain a competitive advantage over U.S. manufacturers. But Romney opposed Obama’s imposition of retaliatory tariffs on Chinese tire imports that ran afoul of global trade rules, according to his recent book. This weekend, the WTO issued a final ruling in favor of the U.S. sanctions after China challenged them.
As part of the comprehensive economic plan, Romney said he would submit a jobs package to Congress on his first day in office consisting of five proposals, including sending languishing trade deals with Panama, Colombia and South Korea to Congress for approval; reducing the corporate income tax rate to 25 percent from 35 percent and immediately implementing federal budget cuts.
On the trade front, Romney said he would conclude the Trans-Pacific partnership negotiations between the U.S. and eight other countries, as the Obama administration has said it is committed to doing, and seek trade promotion authority for the president, which would then only allow Congress to vote up or down on trade pacts without changing them.
He would also create a “Reagan Economic Zone,” defined as a “multilateral trading bloc open to any country committed to the principles of open markets and free enterprise.”