U.S. to Press China to Let Yuan Rise Faster, Trade Official Says

The U.S. continues to urge China to let is currency rise further and faster, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said.

China has allowed the yuan to rise in response to pressure from the Obama administration and the U.S. Treasury Department, Froman said. At the same time, the moves are “not far enough and it’s not fast enough,” the U.S. trade chief added.

“We continue to have to put pressure on them,” Froman said in a March 22 interview in Brussels. “It’s one of those things that is a high priority for us.”

Exchange rates have been a focal point for economic tensions between the U.S. and China, with U.S. lawmakers often using the currency to highlight difficulties for American manufacturers. U.S. Treasury chief Jacob J. Lew renewed his call earlier this month for China to move toward a market-determined exchange rate.

China’s yuan climbed the most in more than two years today as the central bank strengthened the reference rate for the first time in five days. Comments from officials had suggested the currency wouldn’t keep falling, and the People’s Bank of China set the daily fixing 0.04 percent stronger at 6.1452 per dollar today, after weakening it 0.25 percent over the previous four days.

The yuan fell 1.2 percent last week, the biggest drop in China Foreign Exchange Trade System data going back to 2007. Today it rallied 0.58 percent, the most since Oct. 10, 2011, to 6.1888 per dollar at the close in Shanghai, CFETS prices show.

Froman said the U.S. will use a variety of venues to push China to become more market-oriented and open its economy. Trade negotiations on this “key economic relationship” will be accompanied by other measures when necessary and the U.S. will keep using World Trade Organization cases, he said.

“We continue to use our enforcement measures to assure that our trade laws and our trade agreements are fully enforced,” Froman said.