China undervalues its currency in order to gain competitive advantage around the world. Everyone understands that and it needs to change, but the question in the United State is how to effectively change it. The Obama administration is taking the gradual approach:
The Obama administration on Tuesday declined to label China a currency manipulator after seeing recent increases in the value of the yuan compared to the dollar.
The decision angered some manufacturing groups, which have accused Beijing of artificially holding down the value of its currency to gain trade advantages. A cheaper yuan makes Chinese goods less expensive when they are shipped to the United States. It also makes U.S. goods more expensive in China. Both could increase the U.S. trade deficit with China, which is on pace to hit a record high this year.
The Treasury Department said the yuan has appreciated 12 percent against the dollar in the past 18 months, after adjusting for inflation. In addition, the department said in a semi-annual report that China promised at two high-level meetings last month to make the yuan’s exchange rate more flexible.
Still, yuan is “substantially undervalued” and its appreciation “is insufficient and more progress is needed,” the report noted. The department will “press for policy changes that yield greater exchange rate flexibility” and “level the playing field.”
This will likely end up being a campaign issue as Mitt Romney and other GOP candidates are hammering Obama over China. But progress is being made.