Wed, 12 May 2021

Hong Kong, April 16 (ANI): Fitch Ratings has said it expects the Biden administration to downplay tensions over exchange-rate policies with trade partners in Asia due in part to geopolitical considerations even though some are on or at risk of being placed on the US Treasury's currency manipulator list.

The Biden administration's approach should limit the risk of currency tensions resulting in US retaliation that would damage prospects for exports and economic growth in the region, it said.

The US Treasury in its last report considering whether countries manipulate their exchange rates in order to prevent balance-of-payments adjustments or to gain unfair trade advantages, published in December 2020 under the Trump administration, listed Vietnam and Switzerland as currency manipulators.

Other Asian countries that did not meet all of the criteria to be judged currency manipulators, but featured on the Treasury's monitoring list included China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and India.

India and Singapore were judged to have intervened in the foreign-exchange market in a sustained, asymmetrical fashion.

Designation as a currency manipulator by the US carries no immediate and specific penalties at present. However, it requires bilateral engagement on exchange-rate policies and can influence foreign-exchange markets by signalling US disquiet over currency practices.

There is also a risk that new rules could be introduced, particularly if trade tensions escalate. Under President Trump, the Department of Commerce in May 2019 proposed a measure that would have allowed penalties to be applied to countries that supported exports through undervaluing their currencies, although this was not taken forward.

"The Biden administration has so far maintained the Trump administration's tough stance on China-related trade issues, but we believe that it will adopt a less confrontational approach with other trade partners in Asia, as it has signalled a preference for multilateral approaches to lingering economic tensions."Fitch said it expects the US government's stimulus to spur domestic economic growth and accelerate US imports which may widen its bilateral deficits in the near term with some trading partners in Asia, particularly those where domestic demand continues to be held back by Covid-19-related effects.

Higher trade surpluses could lead to further accumulation of foreign-exchange reserves if authorities resist appreciation pressures on their currencies, but the effect may be offset by capital outflows, for example if rising US Treasury yields attract capital from Asian markets.(ANI)

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