US Treasury Department Stops Short of Calling China a Currency Manipulator

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This was the Trump administration's first release of the twice-yearly report, which evaluates the foreign exchange policies of major US trading partners.

On the list of special monitoring of currency practices, countries like China, Japan, South Korea & Taiwan are on top.

China met only one of the three criteria required to be labeled a currency manipulator - a large trade surplus with the United States - while Germany also met a second: a current account surplus amounting to more than three percent of the nation's economic output.

"Expanding trade in a way that is freer and fairer for all Americans requires that other economies avoid unfair currency practices, and we will continue to monitor this carefully", he said.

Additionally, Trump said his administration will not label China as a currency manipulator - a stark reversal from comments he made during his presidential campaign.

This week, in an interview, Trump had indicated that he was backing away from his campaign threat because he felt China hadn't been manipulating its currency in recent months and because labeling it as such now could jeopardize Beijing's cooperation in confronting North Korea.

The enhanced communication between China and the United States is conducive to the healthy development of bilateral trade and investment, he said. He has retreated from that position after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida last weekend.

Economists agree that China doesn't now merit the label of currency manipulator, and has not engaged in the practice for several years.

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The Treasury did not alter its three major thresholds for identifying currency manipulation put in place a year ago by the Obama administration: a bilateral trade surplus with the United States of $20 billion or more; a global current account surplus of more than 3 percent of gross domestic product, and persistent foreign exchange purchases equal to 2 percent of GDP over 12 months.

Trump hasn't named China a "currency manipulator".

The report showed the high priority the administration puts on addressing trade imbalances and said it would be "scrutinizing China's trade and currency practices very closely". While China has been intervening to prevent a depreciation of the yuan, its selling of foreign currency reserves abated early this year, Treasury said.

"When our trading partners engage in currency manipulation, they impose significant, and often long-lasting hardship on American workers and businesses".

"We have no intention to stimulate exports by devaluing the currency, and there is no basis for a continuous devaluation of the renminbi", ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular news conference.

"China has clearly embarked on market-oriented exchange rate reform, with the yuan's daily trading band already expanded to 3 per cent from 0.3 per cent", Zhou said.

"I think he wants to help us with North Korea", Trump said of Xi, crediting China in the White House news conference with taking a "big step" by turning back boats of coal that North Korea sells to its northern neighbor.

It also called on Taiwan to be more transparent in its purchases of currency on global markets.