The United States remains concerned about the weakening of China’s currency and the trade imbalances but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has no meetings scheduled with negotiators from Beijing this week, US officials said Monday.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused China of manipulating its currency – the yuan or renminbi (RMB) – allowing it to weaken to gain the upper hand the trade dispute with Washington.
‘We continue to closely monitor developments in the RMB. We remain concerned about the recent depreciation of the RMB,’ a senior Treasury official told reporters.
‘More broadly we’re concerned about China’s turn away from more market-oriented policies and continued reliance on non-market mechanisms that impact macroeconomic and trade environment.’
But no meetings are scheduled while Mnuchin is in Bali, Indonesia this week for the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, as his Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He, will not attend, the official said.
Mnuchin will have bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the IMF gathering with many of his counterparts in the Group of Seven economies, as well as the Group of 20, of which China is a member, and trade is likely to be discussed.
Chinese officials were due to hold talks late last month in Washington to try to resolve the bitter trade dispute between the nations but Beijing cancelled the meeting after Trump imposed punishing tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods.
‘We’ve made our view clear to the Chinese. If they are ready to have meaningful discussions about correcting the trade imbalances and the structural issues that we have in the relationship, we’re willing to talk with them,’ another official told reporters.
The RMB has fallen for weeks against the US dollar, dropping nine percent in the past six months, which makes Chinese goods cheaper to import even with the punitive tariffs. But the US dollar has strengthened four percent this year as interest rates have risen.
Trump also has accused Beijing of trying to influence the US congressional elections next month by targeting its retaliatory tariffs on products from key Republican strongholds.