China Ducks Currency-Manipulator Brand in Report to Congress

Women walk by a bank window panel displaying the security markers on the latest 100 Yuan notes in Beijing on Feb. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

WASHINGTON (CN) – Missing their fifth opportunity to make good on one of President Donald Trump’s campaign promises, administration officials told Congress on Tuesday that they would not to designate China as a currency manipulator. 

The report sent by the Treasury Department to Congress says no country meets the criteria to be labeled as manipulating currency but that the administration will keep China on a list of closely tracked countries involved in trade surpluses with the United States.

No country has been named a currency manipulator since the Clinton administration slapped the label on China in 1994. During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump vowed to brand China a currency manipulator as soon as he took office. But so far, the administration has passed five opportunities to do so in the twice-yearly currency report. 

The report said that nine nations — China, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam — are on the monitoring list. 

Two nations, India and Switzerland, were removed after making the watch list in October. 

The previous currency report in October listed six nations for special monitoring. While dropping India and Switzerland from the new watch list, the latest report kept four nations — China, Germany, Japan and South Korea — and added Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
Tuesday’s report comes as the United States and China are locked in a bitter, year-long trade dispute. Earlier this month after talks broke off, the Trump administration announced it would boost tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods, and China volleyed with tariffs on U.S. goods including sales of agricultural products such as soybeans. 

The U.S. charges that China is stealing technology, unfairly subsidizing its own companies and forcing U.S. companies to hand over trade secrets if they want access to the Chinese market. 

Trump has vowed to reduce America’s huge trade deficit with China, the largest with any nation, which he says has cost millions of American jobs.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the department takes any unfair currency practices “seriously.”

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