Mnuchin says Trump gave 'warning shot' to Russia, China on currency: CNBC

Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin testifies before the House Committee on Appropriations on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s Twitter post on currencies in China and Russia was a warning to those countries against devaluing their currencies, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Tuesday in an interview with CNBC.

Trump accused Russia and China on Monday of devaluing their currencies while the United States raises interest rates, prompting China to accuse the United States of sending confusing messages.

“It was a warning shot at China and Russia about devaluation. China has devalued their currency in the past,” Mnuchin said. “He’s watching it.”

He said the Twitter post was not related to Trump’s view on the strength of the dollar.

Trump said on Twitter on Monday: “Russia and China are playing the Currency Devaluation game as the U.S. keeps raising interest rates. Not acceptable!”

The tweet referred to what Trump sees as unfair trading advantages: If a country’s currency is artificially low, its exports are more competitive. Higher U.S. interest rates would generally increase the value of the dollar, making U.S. exports more expensive.

Since Trump took office in January 2017, the dollar has weakened substantially against most currencies, including the Chinese yuan and, until the United States imposed sanctions on Russia in the last few weeks, the ruble.

Speaking in Beijing on Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying noted that what Trump said seemed to contradict the U.S. Treasury’s report last week that refrained from naming any major trading partners as currency manipulators.

“So it seems like the information being released by the U.S. side is a bit chaotic,” she told a daily news briefing.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama