Trump admin. declines to brand China a currency manipulator

President Donald Trump explained the decision to not label China a currency manipulator, which reversed a promise he made during the election campaign, as a function of receiving Beijing's help in reining in North Korea. Treasury finds that six major trading partners warrant being placed on the Monitoring List for special attention: "China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Switzerland and Taiwan", it said.

The report uses three criteria - a significant bilateral trade surplus with the USA; a material current-account surplus; and involvement in persistent one-sided intervention in the foreign-exchange market - to determine whether a trading partner is to be named a currency manipulator.

Trump has informed that some of U.S.'s trading partners, mainly China, manipulated their currency but has since backed off that claim, and acknowledged China has not weakened the Yuan to make exports cheaper.

While China has been intervening to prevent a depreciation of the yuan, its selling of foreign currency reserves abated early this year, Treasury said.

The report came after China data showed its surplus with the United States was almost unchanged in the first quarter compared to a year earlier at US$49.6 billion (RM218 billion), and cited China's market protection as an impediment to a balanced trade relationship.

The Treasury Department said Germany should take steps, notably spending policies, "to encourage stronger domestic demand growth", something the country's trading partners and the International Monetary Fund have been urging for some time.

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"China will need to demonstrate that its lack of intervention to resist appreciation over the last three years represents a durable policy shift by letting the RMB rise with market forces once appreciation pressures resume", it said.

The US report said Asia's fourth-largest economy posted US$28 billion in goods surplus with the USA last year, with its current account surplus accounting for 7 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

Central bank Department of Foreign Exchange Director-General Harry Yen (顏輝煌) said that the bank had established an effective communication channel with the Treasury Department and would express its opinions about the department's concerns over the New Taiwan dollar exchange rate.

"Protectionist rhetoric is a good way to win votes, but is hard to put into practice", he said.

"China now has an extremely large and persistent bilateral trade surplus with the United States, which underscores the need for further opening of the Chinese economy to American goods and services, " as well as quicker reforms to boost household consumption, according to the Treasury report.

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request on Saturday seeking comment on the report.

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