Trump admin. declines to brand China a currency manipulator

Posted April 15, 2017

Trump said during the WSJ interview that the US and China would instead work on improving their trading relationship if Beijing will help with the nuclear threat in North Korea.

But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's alleged April 4 chemical weapons attack on his own civilians triggered Trump's outrage, leading him to strike a Syrian airfield with Tomahawk missiles and seeming to mark a change in Trump's outlook on Russian Federation - which has supported Assad throughout Syria's bloody civil war. Trump, in a Wall Street Journal interview, said China hasn't manipulated the yuan for months, while accusing nations that he didn't identify of devaluing their currencies and saying the dollar is getting too strong. Two weeks ago, his administration proposed a mild rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he'd previously branded a job-killing "disaster".

Nor has the threatened 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods materialized.

Trump told the Wall Street Journal that the greenback was "getting too strong", triggering a 0.7% drop in the U.S. dollar index.

"If you look at what's happened, it's those entities or individuals in some cases, or issues, evolving towards the president's position", said White House press secretary Sean Spicer. Just as he quickly learned that healthcare, in his words, is "an unbelievably complex subject", Trump is coming to understand that worldwide relations has more thick woods and sand traps than an 18-hole golf course.

Then, after the bombing, Trump also learned that foreign policy hawks from both the Democratic and Republican parties will support him if he takes bold action against a notorious bad actor.

"The president's tough talk on a variety of subjects was to get results for the American people", Spicer said.

The statement is an about-face from Trump's election campaign promises to slap that label on Beijing on the first day of his administration as part of his plan to reduce Chinese imports into the United States.

That self-imposed deadline came and went.

Many economists have argued that the Chinese currency, RMB, has been at equilibrium level in recent years.

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Yet it's far from clear that there will even be a trade deal with China, and the absence of such a deal doesn't pose a serious problem for China unless the US starts putting tariffs on Chinese products.

Sandy Pho, a senior program associate for the Kissinger Institute on China at the Wilson Center, said that Trump, like many new presidents, has been facing a learning curve on the ways of Beijing.

President Donald Trump campaigned in the 2016 USA election on the pledge he would end what he claimed was widespread manipulation of currency rates that discriminated against American manufacturers, but the report found no evidence of such policies.

"They're not currency manipulators", he told The Wall Street Journal.

Trump is hailing the rapport he developed with Xi during last week's Florida summit, which seems to have yielded an immediate easing of tensions. "It's too important", said Pho, but she warned Trump may be underestimating China's influence over North Korea and its interest in an outcome the USA would be happy with.

"I really think that there's going to be a lot of pressure on Russian Federation to make sure that peace happens because frankly, if Russian Federation didn't go in and back this animal, you wouldn't have a problem right now", Trump said.

That's why Mr. Trump's comment this week that he no longer thinks China is intentionally devaluing its products was, in the words of one trade analyst, a "stunning" reversal.

These included the belief that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was just an old Cold War wheeze, that Russian Federation is a potential ally in fighting terrorism, or that China's phenomenal economic rise was due simply to cheating and unfair competition. USA policy has been normalized. As a candidate, Trump attacked the agency as useless, and many conservatives have called it a hub of crony capitalism.

The report also called on Japan to do more "to revive domestic demand and combat low inflation while avoiding a return to export-led growth".