Trump's trade nominee unsure whether China is manipulating its currency

Trump's trade nominee unsure whether China is manipulating its currency
© Greg Nash

The White House's nominee to head up U.S. trade policy questioned whether China is still manipulating its currency to gain an advantage in global markets. 

Robert Lighthizer, President Trump's nominee to become the next U.S. trade representative, said on Tuesday that while China has in the past adjusted the value of its currency to gain a trade advantage, he is uncertain whether Beijing is still doing so now.

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"In the past, it is my judgment that China was a substantial currency manipulator and I think we've lost a lot of jobs in the United States because of it," Lighthizer told members on the Senate Finance Committee during his confirmation hearing.

"Whether China is manipulating its currency right now, to weaken it, that's another question," Lighthizer said.

Still Lighthizer said the Trump administration will get tough on Beijing and that the president "is going to change the paradigm on China."

He said that "China is a substantial part of our problem" and U.S. officials have to think about some new remedies that go beyond taking cases to the World Trade Organization and "creating some new tools."

 

Trump regularly criticized China during the campaign and he had vowed to label China a currency manipulator on this first day in office. Trump has yet to follow through on that campaign vow.

Lighthizer said that decision would ultimately be up to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has said he would follow the normal process to examine whether countries are violating currency rules. 

Last month, Mnuchin said no decision would come before Treasury's next currency report in April.

China has stepped up efforts to maintain the value of the yuan amid issues with capital outflows.

This post was updated at 6:30 p.m.