U.S. Urges China to Open Trade After Sparing It Manipulator Tag

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

China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan remained on a list for special monitoring of currency practices, China by virtue of a massive trade surplus with the United States.

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", The Hill quoted Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin as saying in a statement.

The Trump administration declined Friday 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.

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The report contains an implicit threat that unless China gives USA 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 Funds China division.

After a friendly meeting in Florida with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week, Trump changed his mind and told the The Wall Street Journal in an April 12 interview that "they're not currency manipulators".

Although Beijing has allowed the yuan to slowly appreciate in recent years and actively fought depreciation recently, its past interventions "imposed significant and long-lasting hardship on American workers and companies".

The U.S. hasn't branded any country a manipulator since 1994.

The move was apparently taken out of consideration for China, which the USA hopes will help rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

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"Additionally, US Department of the Treasury established a "Monitoring List" of major trading partners that merit close attention to their currency practices". "When the president fails to label them a currency manipulator, he gives them a green light to steal our jobs and wealth time and time again".

"In this status, China will have to prove that the lack of intervention to curb the growth rate of the national currency within three years has been a sustainable policy", the U.S. Treasury Department emphasized.

The accompanying report used similar language to describe China's past interventions in exchange markets - a shift to a more forceful tone from prior reports issued under the Obama administration, but not one with immediate practical consequences.

China only meets the criterion of having a major trade surplus.

The report also criticized Japan for failing to do more to stimulate domestic demand and thereby increase sales of USA and other foreign goods.

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This would include more "flexible" government spending policies, and continued reforms to boost the labor market and increase productivity of the Japanese economy.

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