US discusses yuan with China

Washington, Aug 22 (IANS/EFE) US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew spoke by telephone on Friday with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang about the recent devaluation of the yuan, the treasury department said.

Lew told Wang that Washington will closely monitor how the recent shift in China’s exchange rate regime is implemented, the department said in a statement.

“Secretary Lew stated the US has seen progress by China towards financial reform, including new commitments secured this summer at the US-China strategic and economic dialogue to move towards a more flexible, market-determined exchange rate; limit foreign exchange intervention to disorderly market conditions; and increase the transparency of its exchange rate policies,” the statement said.

Lew also emphasised that “it is critical China continue with reforms which are necessary to move towards an economy driven primarily by household consumption rather than exports, which is in both China’s and the US’ best interest”.

The secretary said that next month’s visit to Washington by Chinese President Xi Jinping “will be an important opportunity to make progress on issues vital to our economic relationship”.

The abrupt devaluation of China’s currency early this month has unsettled global financial markets and cast doubt on the strength of the Chinese economy.

For years, Washington had pressed Beijing to liberalise its exchange rate regime, arguing that the government was intervening heavily to hold down the value of yuan to boost Chinese exports.

China insists the devaluation of the yuan is consistent with liberalisation of the exchange rate, but critics say Beijing is seeking to rationalise a move whose real intent was to stimulate the slowing Chinese economy.

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