US President Barack Obama pressed China over its “economic practices” on Sunday, warning that it has still not done enough to allow its currency to rise despite some “slight improvement.”
“When it comes to their economic practices, there are a range of things that they have done that disadvantage not just the United States but a whole host of their trading partners and countries in the region,” Obama said.
Speaking at a press conference following a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders including Chinese President Hu Jintao in Hawaii, Obama said his chief problem with China was over its yuan currency.
The United States and the European Union have long accused China of keeping its yuan artificially low, fueling a flow of cheap exports that have turned the rising Asian power into the world’s manufacturing capital.
“Most economists estimate that the RMB #renmimbi, also known as the yuan# is devalued by 20 to 25 per cent,” Obama said. “That means our exports to China are that much more expensive and their imports into the United States are that much cheaper.
“Now there has been slight improvement over the last year, partly because of US pressure, but it hasn’t been enough,” he said.
“It’s time for them to go ahead and move towards a market-based system for their currency. We recognize that they are not be able to do it overnight.”
The US Senate, controlled by Obama’s Democratic Party, last month approved a bill to impose punitive taxes on Chinese imports if the yuan is not revalued.
China’s foreign ministry said that Hu told Obama during a meeting Saturday that even a substantial rise in the yuan “will not solve problems faced by the United States,” pointing to other problems in the world’s largest economy.
While resisting US pressure, C