19 April, 2017
The Trump administration has officially declined to brand China a currency manipulator, in another major U-turn for the U.S. president, who had repeatedly pledged during his campaign to do so soon after taking office.
Trump repeatedly pledged in his election campaign to name China as a currency manipulator on his first day in office, but did not do so.
China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Switzerland and Taiwan remained on a previously established watch list of countries in the Trump administration's first report on currency values. Japan and South Korea are concerned Trump will overlook China's aggression toward its neighbors.
According to the central bank, Taiwan only met one of the three criteria in the latest report as Taipei still enjoyed a large current account surplus, but did not meet the criterion which accused a trading partner of persistent one-sided currency intervention.
Now, China needed to show that its lack of intervention in the currency markets "to resist appreciation" over the past three years was a "durable" policy by allowing the yuan to strengthen "once appreciation pressures resume", the Treasury said.
Trump's Treasury Department used the same standards for determining currency manipulation as those of the previous administration under President Barack Obama.
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"The United States can not and will not bear the burden of an worldwide trading system that unfairly disadvantages our exports and unfairly advantages the exports of our trading partners through artificially distorted exchange rates", it said.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said ensuring a level playing field for United States businesses is an "essential component of this administration's strategy".
Also, Seoul's financial authorities intervened on the foreign exchange market throughout 2016 in order to ease a sharp depreciation of the local currency, selling $6.6 billion over the on-year period. In a statement, the Treasury department said the findings and recommendations of the report are meant to combat "potentially unfair currency practices" and support the growth of free and fair trade.
Trump may perhaps want to play big brother to Korea in order to coerce China into giving United States exporters greater market access and further rebalances the economy to rectify the huge trade imbalance.
"Fixing trade imbalances will be an issue for the United States in its dialogues with China and Japan, while the manipulator threat has been put on the backburner", a Japanese government official told Reuters. "Treasury places significant importance on China adhering to its G-20 commitments to refrain from engaging in competitive devaluation and not to target China's exchange rate for competitive purposes". Trump said. "So, I'm dealing with China with great respect".