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Will Trump Launch a Currency War, Too?

Summary:
Last month, Donald Trump personally announced a series of import tariffs and other measures to restrict the flow of Chinese goods and capital into the United States. Clearly, Trump views China as a significant economic threat, so it may be only a matter of time before he sets his sights on the renminbi as well. SANTA BARBARA – In recent weeks, the Trump administration has rolled out a series of trade and investment measures that put China squarely in its crosshairs. Clearly, Trump and his advisers view China as America’s chief “economic enemy.” The question now is whether they will follow up with an attack on the renminbi, China’s increasingly popular currency. The Year Ahead 2018 The world’s leading thinkers

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Last month, Donald Trump personally announced a series of import tariffs and other measures to restrict the flow of Chinese goods and capital into the United States. Clearly, Trump views China as a significant economic threat, so it may be only a matter of time before he sets his sights on the renminbi as well.

SANTA BARBARA – In recent weeks, the Trump administration has rolled out a series of trade and investment measures that put China squarely in its crosshairs. Clearly, Trump and his advisers view China as America’s chief “economic enemy.” The question now is whether they will follow up with an attack on the renminbi, China’s increasingly popular currency.

So far, the US has imposed sweeping import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, which Trump personally announced early last month. Since then, the administration has carved out exemptions for certain US allies, while using the tariffs as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from others.

China, for its part, is not a major supplier of steel or aluminum to the United States. But Chinese overcapacity has been putting downward pressure on steel and aluminum prices globally, to the detriment of US producers. So, the Trump administration’s aim is to force China to reduce its own output sharply.

Even more dramatically, the Trump administration has unveiled plans to impose import tariffs on a wide range of Chinese goods, valued at up to $60 billion. It is also tightening restrictions on corporate acquisitions and investments by foreign firms; and it has signaled its intention to challenge China’s forced technology transfers at the World Trade Organization.

Moreover, the administration is moving to bar Chinese companies from investing in sensitive US sectors such as semiconductors and 5G wireless-communications technologies. Trump has already blocked a $117 billion bid by Broadcom – a Singapore-based firm with close ties to China – to acquire the US tech giant Qualcomm.

Similarly, the Trump-appointed commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, has agreed to treat Huawei, China’s top telecommunications equipment maker, as a national security risk. And, under a  proposed new rule, firms with that classification will no longer be able to supply equipment to companies building Internet infrastructure in the US.

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