US government refrains from calling China a currency manipulator

China could bolster confidence in the yuan by engaging in more market-friendly reforms. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2018

US government refrains from calling China a currency manipulator

  • The US Treasury Department said a recent depreciation of China’s yuan currency will likely exacerbate the US trade deficit
  • China is trying to counter some of the yuan depreciation

WASHINGTON: The US government on Wednesday refrained from naming China or any other trading partner as a currency manipulator, as it leans on import tariffs to try to cut a trade deficit with China.
In its semi-annual currency report, the US Treasury Department said a recent depreciation of China’s yuan currency will likely exacerbate the US trade deficit, but US officials found Beijing appeared to be doing little to directly intervene in the currency’s value.
US President Donald Trump has claimed that China’s rise as an exporting powerhouse has hurt US workers and since taking office he has ordered tariffs on more than $200 billion in Chinese imports.
“Of particular concern are China’s lack of currency transparency and the recent weakness in its currency,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Since the Treasury’s last currency report was issued on April 13, the yuan has fallen by more than 9.0 percent against the US dollar.
In the last week, the currency has pushed closer to the key 7 to the dollar threshold, a level not breached since 2008. Some currency derivatives show market participants expect the yuan to weaken past that level within a year.
The Treasury noted reports that China was trying to counter some of the yuan depreciation and said China could bolster confidence in the yuan by engaging in more market-friendly reforms.
“Treasury is deeply disappointed that China continues to refrain from disclosing its foreign exchange intervention,” the department said in its report.
It added that China should advance macroeconomic reforms that support greater household consumption growth and help rebalance the economy away from investment.
China’s multi-decade investment boom has helped make it the world’s factory and fueled a trade surplus in goods with the US of $390 billion in the 12 months through June.
Some China experts have speculated that Beijing could use yuan devaluation as a weapon in a broader trade war with the US.
The Treasury also said it was keeping China, India, Japan, Germany, South Korea and Switzerland on a monitoring list for extra scrutiny.
The Treasury said it was concerned that South Korea stepped up interventions in currency markets that appeared “to have been for the purpose of slowing won appreciation against the dollar.”
The Treasury said India was on course to be left off the list when it is next updated in six months. India was added in April after a burst in foreign exchange sales by the country’s central bank.


Lufthansa to freeze hiring, cut costs over coronavirus

Updated 26 February 2020

Lufthansa to freeze hiring, cut costs over coronavirus

  • ‘All new hires ... will be reassessed, suspended or deferred’
  • Lufthansa has also slashed connections with Hong Kong in the face of reduced demand

FRANKFURT AM MAIN: German airline Lufthansa said Wednesday it would freeze new hires and use unpaid leave and additional short-time work to cut costs to help cushion the economic impact of the novel coronavirus.
“To counteract the economic impact of the coronavirus of the early stage,” the group, which also owns carriers Austrian and Swiss, said in a statement that “all new hires ... will be reassessed, suspended or deferred.”
Employees would be offered unpaid leave and more part-time work and the group would also seek to cut administrative costs, it said.
“It is not yet possible to estimate the expected impact ... on earnings,” the group said, adding that it would provide more details at its annual results press conference on March 19.
The Frankfurt-based group said 13 of its aircraft were grounded, after it canceled all flights to and from mainland China by its flagship airline, as well as Austrian and Swiss until March 28.
Lufthansa has also slashed connections with Hong Kong in the face of reduced demand “and additional frequency adjustments to and from Frankfurt, Munich and Zurich are planned,” it said.