U.S. official says 'imperative' for China to act on currency

NEW YORK Thu May 16, 2013 8:02am EDT

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NEW YORK May 16 (Reuters) - The top U.S. official for international economic affairs called on China to do more to widen its currency band in order to boost Chinese consumption and help global growth.

"It is imperative that China take additional measures to increase the flexibility of its exchange rate regime," Lael Brainard, the Treasury undersecretary for international affairs, said in remarks prepared for a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

The U.S. Treasury, in its latest currency report last month, declined to name China a currency manipulator but said the world's second-largest economy must do more to widen the yuan's trading band against the dollar.

"China's path toward market determination implies further widening along with significantly greater transparency about reserves and intervention," Brainard said on Thursday.

Many U.S. lawmakers have accused China of deliberately keeping the yuan undervalued to gain a trade advantage. But efforts to take a stronger stance on China's currency moves have faded over the past year due to an increase in the value of the yuan, a big drop in China's global trade surplus and a rise in labor costs that has made Chinese products less competitive.

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