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Obama likely to pressure China on yuan-US lawmaker

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is expected to consider all options for pressuring China to raise the value of its currency, including through the World Trade Organization, a senior Democrat said on Wednesday. "I don't think just jawboning will be the approach of this administration," said Rep. Sander Levin, a Democrat who chairs a key trade subcommittee in the House of Representatives. Asked if he thought the Obama administration, which takes over next Tuesday, could bring a WTO case, he said, "I think it will look at all options, including that, including working through the IMF, including looking at present legislation." "I think they will be much more determined to see things change" than the Bush administration has been, the Michigan lawmaker told reporters. He chairs the trade subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. U.S. lawmakers and manufacturers have complained for years that China is deliberately undervaluing its currency to gain an unfair advantage in international trade although U.S. consumers have benefited from an influx of cheap Chinese goods. The Bush administration established a high-level economic dialogue to press Beijing on that and other economic concerns, but stopped short of stronger action. Bush's Treasury Department also routinely irked lawmakers by failing to formally label China as a currency manipulator in a semi-annual report on the currency practices of major U.S. trading partners. Levin said he would press the Obama administration to do so when it issues the next report, which is due in April. "We have to address the currency issue. I think the financial crisis makes clear how important this issue is," he said. During last year's election campaign, Obama said China's "manipulation of its currency's value" was a big reason for the huge U.S. trade deficit with China, which reached a record $256.3 billion in 2007. That has raised expectations that he will take a tougher line on currency than outgoing President George W. Bush. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told former U.S. President Jimmy Carter earlier this week that the global financial crisis made it critical the two countries work together. Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week economic policy toward China must be closely coordinated with foreign policy. "They cannot be pursued in isolation to each other," she said. "China is a critically important actor in a changing global landscape. We cannot put a simple label on a complex relationship," Clinton said. The incoming administration is evaluating whether to continue the so-called "strategic economic dialogue" with China started under Bush, at least in its current form, Clinton said.

Updated : 2021-06-13 20:28 GMT+08:00