(Adds quotes and background)
DES MOINES, Sept 29 President Barack Obama said
on Wednesday that China's currency is undervalued and
contributes to the U.S. trade imbalance with Beijing, as U.S.
lawmakers looked poised to pass a measure threatening punitive
tariffs on Chinese goods.
"The reason that I'm pushing China about their currency is
because their currency is undervalued," Obama said in a
backyard visit with an Iowa family.
Obama, responding to a question, acknowledged that many
Americans believe Beijing was managing the yuan to keep its
value artificially low to make Chinese exports cheaper while
U.S. products sold in China were then more expensive.
"It's a contributing factor to our trade imbalance," Obama
The House of Representatives later on Wednesday was
expected to approve, with bipartisan support, a bill to treat
China's exchange rate as a subsidy, opening the door to
additional duties on Chinese goods entering the United States,
some of which are already subject to special levies.
But the measure must gain Senate approval and be signed
into law by Obama.
The White House has not taken a position on the bill,
except to say it wanted to be sure it did not violate World
Trade Organisation rules.
The House move, little more than a month before U.S.
congressional elections, is certain to further roil relations
with Beijing, which resents the criticism and says it is its
decision alone how fast to proceed with currency reforms.
The Obama administration has stepped up pressure on Beijing
over its currency, mindful of the need to show that the
president and fellow Democrats are serious about anything that
jeopardizes U.S. jobs in an election season when high
unemployment and an anemic economy are voters' top concerns.
(Editing by Sandra Maler)