The United States has declined to label China a currency manipulator despite President Donald Trump's insistent pledge during the election campaign that he would do so as soon as he took office.
"China has a long track record of engaging in persistent, large-scale, one-way foreign exchange intervention", the Treasury Department said in its semiannual report on the foreign-exchange policies of major USA trade partners.
"China will need to demonstrate that its lack of intervention to resist appreciation over the last three years represents a durable policy shift by letting the RMB (yuan) rise with market forces once appreciation pressures resume", the report said.
Economists and business leaders had said that China wasn't manipulating its currency.
Still, despite that reversal, the report said a decade of holding down the renminbi had imposed "significant and long-lasting hardship on American workers and companies" and left China with the largest trade surplus of any country against the United States - $347 billion previous year. 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.
Trump, who on the campaign trail blamed China for "stealing" U.S.jobs and prosperity by cheapening its currency, repeatedly promised to label the country as a currency manipulator on "day one" of a Trump administration - a move that would require special negotiations and could lead to punitive duties and other action.
Economists agree that China doesn't now merit the label of currency manipulator, and has not engaged in the practice for several years.
That "distortion in the global trading system. imposed significant and long-lasting hardship on American workers and companies".
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 said some United States trading partners, particularly China, manipulated their currency, but has since backed off that claim and acknowledged that China had not weakened the yuan to make its exports cheaper. Steven Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Grou and one of Trump's top economic advisers, raised doubt that the administration would designate China as such in its upcoming report.
On Friday, the Treasury Department issued its first report on the currency practices of America's trading partners.
But the reversal could also mean that Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping may have figured a way to fix the trade imbalance and the tension in the Korean peninsula during their meeting earlier this month in Florida. Germany, South Korea and Switzerland should increase public borrowing to support domestic demand for goods and services, the report suggested.
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