Economy

USA wants China, Germany to do more to cut trade surpluses

USA wants China, Germany to do more to cut trade surpluses

On March 14, 2017, semi-annual U.S. Treasury currency report was released, which doesn't indicate any major trading partner as currency manipulator, although it seems to leave open the option for action in future.

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.

"One thing we noticed was the report touched on the previous history of (currency manipulation)". It kept China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Germany and Switzerland on its foreign-exchange monitoring list.

"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.

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Zhou Shijian, a senior fellow at Tsinghua University's Institute of International Relations, said the Treasury made a "right and realistic decision" not to label China as a currency manipulator, something China had not been branded since 1992. Such tariffs, though, could be overturned in a review by the World Trade Organization.

However, in its report the Treasury alleged that China has a long track record of engaging in persistent, large- scale, one-way foreign exchange intervention, doing so for roughly a decade to resist renminbi (RMB) appreciation even as its trade and current account surpluses soared.

In its review of the practices of the other nations, Treasury said Germany, the largest single economy in Europe, should act to encourage stronger domestic demand as a way to reduce its large trade surplus.

It was the third time for Taiwan to be placed on the currency monitoring list since the United States started to publish such a report in April 2016.

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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.

"When our trading partners engage in currency manipulation, they impose significant, and often long-lasting hardship on American workers and businesses", he said. But the reversal could also mean that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping may have figured a way to fix the trade imbalance and the tension in the Korean peninsula during their meeting earlier this month in Florida. The dollar's strength in the past two years has been a drag on US exports.

This was the Trump administration's first release of the twice-yearly report, which evaluates the foreign exchange policies of major USA trading partners. The reversal by the Treasury department was one of the nearly half-a-dozen instances when Donald Trump or his administration have gone back on his poll campaign promises. The administration has also put forward a draft proposal on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada that dropped some of the tougher positions Trump took during the campaign.

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