The US President Donald Trump administration has again refrained from labelling China a currency manipulator, but put the Asian country along with eight other nations on its watch list.
The United States and China are locked in a bitter, year-long trade dispute which has seen the Trump administration recently boost tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods after talks broke off earlier this month.
“Treasury takes seriously any potentially unfair currency practices, and Treasury is expanding the number of US trading partners it reviews to make currency practices fairer and more transparent,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday.
“The Treasury Department is working vigorously to achieve stronger growth and to ensure that trade expands in a way that helps U.S. workers,” added Mnuchin.
The department said in its semi-annual report to Congress that China, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam need close attention due to currency practices.
Malaysia’s central bank said the country supported free and fair trade and didn’t have unfair currency practices, adding that inclusion on the list had no consequences for the country’s economy.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore said it doesn’t manipulate the currency for export advantage and its policy framework is centered on the exchange rate to ensure price stability.
During the 2016 election campaign, Trump vowed to brand China a currency manipulator as soon as he took office. But so far, the administration has passed up five opportunities to do so in the twice-yearly currency report.
A 1988 law stipulates that the Treasury Department report to Congress every six months on whether any countries are manipulating their currencies to gain trade advantages over the US.
No country has been named a currency manipulator since the Clinton administration slapped the label on China in 1994.