Trump's Reversals Come After Crash Course on Issues

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration declined to name any major trading partners as currency manipulators in a highly anticipated report on Friday, confirming a decision to back away from his key campaign promise to slap such a label on China.

The Treasury Department, in its semiannual report on exchange rates sent to Congress, has not labeled any country as a currency manipulator but it kept six countries on the monitoring list that merit close attention for their currency practices.

Taiwan, South Korea and Japan were told in the report to keep currency market interventions as limited as possible while moving toward more flexible and transparent exchange rate policies, reports said.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pledged to continue to monitor currency practices closely, saying that an essential component of the Trump administration's strategy is to ensure that American workers and companies face a level playing field when competing internationally.

China was the last nation to be named a currency manipulator by the US.

In addition to Taiwan, the U.S. Treasury has also placed China, Japan, South Korea, Germany and Switzerland on the list.

The U.S. report said Asia's fourth-largest economy posted US$28 billion in goods surplus with the U.S. last year, with its current account surplus accounting for 7 percent of the country's gross domestic product. The three are: a significant bilateral trade surplus with the USA; a material current account surplus; and the involvement in persistent one-sided intervention in the foreign exchange market.

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The United States has stopped short of branding China a currency manipulator, but urged the world's second-biggest economy to let the yuan rise with market forces and embrace more trade.

Economists agree that China doesn't now merit the label of currency manipulator, and has not engaged in the practice for several years.

But in his interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump said he had decided that China hadn't recently been manipulating its currency after all.

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

Trump has softened his rhetoric against China's trade practices as Beijing has intervened in foreign exchange markets to prop up the value of its yuan, and as he looks to China for help dealing with rising tension on the Korean peninsula.

The U.S. Treasury releases the Report on Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States in a bid to implement the new provisions of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, also known as the Customs Bill. Because of these actions, many economists and investors had already suspected that China wouldn't meet Treasury's criteria. Germany, South Korea and Switzerland should increase public borrowing to support domestic demand for goods and services, the report suggested.

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