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Snow: Encouraged by China currency steps
( 2003-12-09 16:37) (Agencies)

U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow said on Monday he was "genuinely encouraged" with steps China has taken toward a more flexible exchange rate, and said it would be a mistake to push Beijing to move too quickly.

US Secretary of the Treasury John Snow said he was "genuinely encouraged" with steps China has taken toward a more flexible exchange rate. [AFP]
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In an interview with Reuters, Snow said Treasury would soon announce the appointment of a U.S. official who will be stationed in Beijing to work with China on currency and other financial issues.

Snow declined to say how quickly China might move to a more flexible exchange rate, saying: "I think it would be a mistake to put a time frame on it."

China's currency exchange rate, currently pegged at about 8.28 to the dollar, is one of several topics on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting between President Bush and visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, Snow said.

U.S. manufacturers complain Beijing's pegged exchange rate gives it an unfair trade advantage by artificially keeping down the price of Chinese exports.

This autumn, Snow pressed Chinese leaders on the need for a more flexible exchange rate when he traveled to Beijing.

"We found an affirmation that that's where they want to go, longer term. They pointed out they had obstacles to overcome before they could go there," Snow said, noting in particular China's large number of nonperforming bank loans.

"We acknowledged that they couldn't go there immediately - in fact, that it would probably be a mistake to try to go there too soon because you risk some financial imbalances in that region," Snow said.

But Snow added he was "genuinely encouraged by the path we're on with the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank and their financial authorities."

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