WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will present the Obama administration’s latest view of what the United States should do to press China to reform its exchange rate practices at a hearing next week, a key Democratic lawmaker said on Thursday.
“It is vital that we hear Secretary Geithner’s views about U.S. policy and how best to proceed,” House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin said in a statement announcing the September 16 hearing.
The announcement follows new trade data on Thursday that showed the U.S. trade deficit with China fell almost 1 percent in July. But it was still nearly 18 percent higher for the first seven months of the year, at $145.4 billion, compared to the same period in 2009.
“The large and persistent U.S. trade imbalance with China is a major contributor to global imbalances, costing the United States jobs and economic growth,” Levin said.
“Despite the administration’s success in placing global imbalances, including our imbalance with China, on the G-20 agenda, China’s currency remains substantially undervalued,” the Michigan Democrat said.
Many U.S. lawmakers accuse Beijing of deliberately undervaluing its currency by as much as 40 percent to give Chinese exporters an unfair trade advantage.
Geithner’s Treasury Department, in three semi-annual reports since President Barack Obama took office, has declined to formally name China a currency manipulator.
Geithner delayed the last report due on April 15 for three months to give China more time to act on its own.
Just before a June G20 leaders meeting in Canada, Beijing did announce it was loosening its currency’s peg against the dollar. But the yuan has barely risen in value since, angering lawmakers who believe the huge trade deficit with China is to blame for millions of lost U.S. manufacturing jobs.
The Treasury Department’s next currency report is due October 15. In the meantime, a number of lawmakers in both the House and Senate are pushing for legislation that would allow the Commerce Department to set duties on Chinese goods to offset the amount of China’s currency “undervaluation.”
Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Christopher Wilson and Todd Eastham