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US sees no yuan manipulation

THE Obama administration has declined to cite China as a country that is manipulating its currency to gain unfair trade advantages.

The finding, in a semiannual Treasury Department report on Wednesday, comes after Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said during his Senate confirmation hearings that President Barack Obama believed China was manipulating its currency.

Geithner's comments in January were in response to questions from members of the US Senate Finance Committee and raised expectations that the new administration might take a tougher line in dealing with China than the administration of former President George W. Bush.

Geithner cited Obama's support as a senator of legislation that would have authorized a tougher enforcement process for currency manipulators.

Geithner said in January that Obama believed the process needed to be overhauled so that "countries like China cannot continue to get a free pass for undermining fair trade principles."

However, in a statement accompanying the new report, Geithner cited a number of actions China has taken in recent months to "enhance exchange rate flexibility."

Those actions included allowing the yuan to rise in value against a group of currencies including the dollar by 16.6 percent between the end of last June and the beginning of February. However, the currency report noted that the yuan's value against the dollar has been essentially flat during the same period.

American manufacturers contend that the undervalued Chinese currency is the biggest cause for the huge trade deficit the US runs with China. They say the yuan is undervalued by 20 to 40 percent against the dollar.

Geithner said China had played a constructive role in the current global economic downturn, including advancing an economic stimulus package that he said was second in size only to the program the US is pursuing.

China said yesterday that it "had taken note" of the US report on the currency manipulation issue.

"We will continue reform of the yuan exchange rate mechanism," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular press conference in response to a question about the US statement.


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