Trump admin. declines to brand China a currency manipulator
US Treasury Department on Friday declared that no major trading partner of the US, including China, met the standard of manipulating its currency, while six economies were listed on its Monitoring List to ensure extra scrutiny of their foreign exchange policies. South Korea was among six countries on the Treasury's list for close monitoring, the others being China, Japan, Taiwan, Germany and Switzerland.
The semi-annual U.S. Treasury currency report, however, did keep China on a currency "monitoring list" despite Beijing's progress in reducing its global current account surplus, citing its unusually large trade surplus with the United States.
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.
During the inauguration speech last January, President Trump hinted that the USA may withdraw from global stages as he said: "We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone".
"China will need to demonstrate that it lacks of intervention to resist appreciation over the last three years represents a durable policy shift by letting the [renminbi] rise with market forces once appreciation resume".
Trump, in a Wall Street Journal interview, said China had not manipulated the yuan for months, while accusing nations that he didn't identify of devaluing their currencies and saying the U.S. dollar is getting too strong.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said ensuring a level playing field for U.S. businesses is an "essential component of this administration's strategy".
Further, the report said that greater transparency of China's exchange rate and reserve management operations and goals was of extreme importance.
"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 in statement.
The two countries' trade imbalance is easing as middle-income Chinese generate a huge demand for imported products, according to both USA and Chinese official data.
South Korea met only two out of three criteria to become a currency manipulator - trade surplus, current account surplus and market intervention.
"The US 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.
"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.
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