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Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin indicated on Friday that he’ll consider lifting a U.S. designation that China manipulates its currency once the first phase of a new U.S.-China trade deal is complete.
The U.S. and China on Friday agreed on the outlines of a partial trade accord that has yet to be put in writing. An agreement could be signed as early as November.
“We’ll be making a decision about that, evaluating that,” Mnuchin said, referring to the designation, and closing the agreement with China will be “a big step in the right direction.”
The U.S. in August formally labeled China a currency manipulator, further escalating its trade war with Beijing after the country’s central bank allowed the yuan to fall in retaliation for new U.S. tariffs.
The move over the summer was made outside the usual issuance of Treasury’s semi-annual foreign-exchange policy report to Congress. China drew Trump’s ire after the yuan broke the 7 per dollar level in August for the first time since 2008, unleashing tumult across global markets.
While the Treasury Department’s determination is largely symbolic -- the potential penalties are less punitive than the steps Trump has already taken against China -- it was seen as a mark of a rapidly deteriorating relationship between the world’s two largest economies.
The department’s next currency report is expected this month, although the agency has not yet provided a date.
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