PORTMAN, TRUMP CAMPAIGN SLAM CHINA CURRENCY DECISION:

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[ Adam Behsudi| October 17, 2016 | Politico]

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Trump campaign advisers Peter Navarro and Dan DiMicco blasted the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision on Friday not to declare China a currency manipulator — an action no administration, Republican or Democrat, has taken since 1994.

“By refusing to take on China over how it manipulates its currency, the Obama administration is giving Chinese workers an unfair advantage over Ohio workers,” Portman said in a statement. “That’s both indefensible and wrong. … The administration should be working to level the playing field for American workers, farmers and businesses, and that includes taking stronger actions against China when it cheats.”

The Treasury Department’s semi-annual report once again found no major trading partner was artificially depressing the value of its currency against the dollar in order to boost exports to the U.S. However, China was kept on a new monitoring list, meaning the country’s monetary policies will be closely watched during the next six months.

Donald Trump has promised that, if elected, he would direct his Treasury secretary to label China a currency manipulator — and both DiMicco and Navarro onloaded on the Treasury Department’s latest finding in separate emails to POLITICO. “This is the same propaganda we have seen for the last two administrations,” DiMicco said. “I have been in meetings where certain unnamed cabinet-level individuals will readily admit that China definitely manipulates their currency, but they would not do anything about it! The reasons for this are just smokescreens — we owe China too much; they will attack our American companies in China and make doing business there very difficult if not impossible, etc.”

“Finding China to be a currency manipulator would be important for U.S. manufacturing,” DiMicco, a former steel company executive, continued. “First, it sends a very strong message that we have had enough damage to our manufacturing industries, our workers, our economy, and we are putting you on notice that we are done talking and will be taking action. Second, it would make it more likely that U.S. manufacturers could use the trade laws to obtain duties on undervalued Chinese products. Many experts believe that under current U.S. law, the Department of Commerce could use the countervailing duty laws to address currency manipulation. Declaring China to be a currency manipulator would encourage such an action.”

The Chinese yuan has fallen about 3.2 percent over the past year against the dollar and is now at its lowest level since 2010. But many economists say that mainly reflects market concerns about the country’s slowing economy and capital flight. The Treasury Department said the yuan would likely be lower than it is now if not for China’s central bank intervening in the currency market to stem the rate of decline. Doug Palmer has the full story, including Navarro’s take on the report, here.

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