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US shies away from calling China a currency manipulator

18 October 2018

Oil steadied on Thursday as support from ongoing tensions over the disappearance of a prominent Saudi journalist offset a big drop overnight due to a jump in US crude stockpiles.

The US Treasury Department has decided not to brand China a currency manipulator but kept it on a watch list with other countries, including Germany, Japan, Switzerland, India and Korea.

That reinforces expectations that U.S. yields will rise further despite U.S. President Donald Trump's view that the Fed was tightening too much.

"The President concurs with the Department of State's recommendation to adopt self-declared rates for terminal dues as soon as practical and no later than January 1, 2020", White House Press spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in the release. "If negotiations are successful, the Administration is prepared to rescind the notice of withdrawal and remain in the UPU".

The decision to pull out of the agreement was pushed by Trump senior adviser Peter Navarro, who is a long-time advocate of tougher trade measures against China, according to The Times. Administration officials are still weighing whether Trump will meet with China's president, Xi Jinping, in Argentina next month. Data out earlier in the day showed exports from the world's third-biggest economy dropped for the first time since late 2016, hit by declines in shipments to the United States and China. Administration officials said they were assessing rates for other countries and had not made any decisions about whether the policy would extend beyond China. And it could crimp shipments of cheap goods from Chinese manufacturers directly to US consumers - a practice that many USA retailers and small businesses say hurts them.

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The price of shipping a 4.4-pound package, the largest parcel covered by the treaty, from China to the United States is about $5, according to US estimates. Officials said it is cheaper to ship certain packages to the United States from overseas than it is to send them domestically.

The "system creates winners and losers", the report's author's concluded, especially China's national postal service and "Chinese online retailers in the lightweight, low-value package segment at the expense of the U.S. Postal Service and American retailers".

The U.S.is willing to renegotiate the treaty over the next year but will leave the union if no agreement can be reached, the officials said. A 2014 study, cited in a Postal Service analysis of the issue, estimated that discounted shipping cost industrialized nations as much as $2.1 billion a year in aggregate.

"Manufacturers and manufacturing workers in the United States will greatly benefit from a modernized and far more fair arrangement with China", Jay Timmons, the president of the association, said in a statement.

EBay was first to exploit terminal dues to create special postal rates for Chinese companies selling into the U.S. and Europe known as ePacket, and now President Trump may upend the system on which those rates depend. "How can my government be subsidizing China and driving me out of business?"

US shies away from calling China a currency manipulator