US declines to brand China a currency manipulator

18 April, 2017, 03:20 | Author: Delbert Rhodes
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"Whether they're currency manipulators or not, we should expect them to act to prevent what could be a cataclysmic event".

Trump said the Chinese "are not currency manipulators", in a Wednesday interview with the Wall Street Journal, stepping back from past accusations that the Chinese are the "grand champions at manipulation of currency".

The last report released in October found that six countries - China, Japan, Korea, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland - met two of the three criteria.

The report said that China remained on the list because of its "disproportionate share of the overall USA trade deficit", despite that China's current account surplus was only 1.8 percent of GDP in 2016, sharply down from 2.8 percent of GDP in 2015.

The United States has declined to label China a currency manipulator despite President Donald Trump's insistent pledge during the election campaign that he would do so as soon as he took office.

With Washington pushing a trade agenda aimed at reducing deficits, experts say the most logical option is to lengthen the time period for reviewing currency market interventions from 12 months to several years. He expected that the RMB exchange rate would remain stable at current level with China's current account surplus and its efforts to deal with capital outflows.

The report contains an implicit threat that unless China gives United States exporters greater market access and further rebalances the economy, the USA could act to rectify the trade imbalance, according to Eswar Prasad, former head of the International Monetary Fund's China division and author of Gaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi. China has burned through nearly $1 trillion of its foreign reserves, or about a quarter of the total stockpile, since mid-2014 to help support the currency. "Treasury does have some choice words for China, accusing it of causing "long-lasting hardship" to American workers".

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All six countries had been named by Obama's Treasury Department as well.

Trump is determined to resolve this foreign policy crisis.

In Asia, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea were urged to keep interventions to a minimum, and aspire to have flexible and transparent exchange-rate policies. "Treasury is committed to aggressively and vigilantly monitoring and combating unfair currency practices". The twice-a-year document is required by law.

Designating a country as a currency manipulator doesn't immediately trigger any penalties, but it is seen by other governments as a provocation. An official at the monetary authority, who asked not to be identified, said last Saturday that the central bank is in continued contact with the USA and has good communication channels with Washington.

Treasury hasn't branded any nation a currency manipulator — a highly charged assertion — since the Clinton administration labeled China as such in 1994.

"They're telling us not to do so in the future and we have no intention of doing so", a senior South Korean finance official said.

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