Trump Aide Says Yen Manipulation Won’t Be Priority in Abe Talks

  • Auto industry will be a key agenda item for U.S. president
  • White House official briefed reporters to preview agenda

President Donald Trump’s accusations of currency manipulation against Japan aren’t a priority for him in talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe planned for Friday, an administration official said.

The official, who briefed reporters on the U.S. agenda for the meeting on condition of anonymity, said currency manipulation isn’t at the top of the president’s list for the discussions. The official declined to elaborate.

The automobile industry will be an important topic in the talks, the official said. The official declined to address specifics about it or how the president would approach discussions on import taxes.

Trump said Jan. 31 that China and Japan “play the money market, they play the devaluation market and we sit there like a bunch of dummies." On the campaign trail in 2015, Trump accused Japan of currency manipulation.

Abe, his main lieutenant in the cabinet and Japan’s top foreign exchange official all pushed back Feb. 1 against Trump’s assertion that Japan is keeping its currency devalued.

"Japan’s monetary policy is for the domestic purpose of beating deflation, and isn’t done with FX in mind, so I think that those remarks are a little bit wide of the mark,” said
Masatsugu Asakawa, the Finance Ministry’s foreign exchange policy chief.

The dollar traded at about 113 yen Thursday afternoon in New York, almost 8 percent stronger than on the Nov. 8 U.S. presidential election.