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Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 14:14
Vietnam PM urges Trump to take objective view in trade spat
By Reuters
Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 14:14 By Reuters

In this Feb 27, 2019 file photo, US President Donald Trump (left) shakes hands with Vietnam's Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc before a meeting at the Government Office in Hanoi, ahead of the second US-DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) summit. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

HANOI - Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Monday the country’s exchange rate policy was not aimed at helping its exports and asked that US President Donald Trump have “a more objective assessment of the reality in Vietnam”.

Vietnam has been on Washington’s watch list of currency manipulators because of its trade surplus with the United States, a large current-account surplus and a perception that its central bank has been actively buying foreign currency

The US Trade Representative (USTR) said earlier this month that under Trump’s direction, it was opening an investigation into whether Vietnam has been undervaluing its dong currency and harming US commerce.

“If the dong is devalued, it would seriously hurt the economy,” Phuc told Adam Boehler, head of the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), in Hanoi on Monday.

“Vietnam is not using exchange rate policy to create a competitive advantage in international trade.”

Vietnam has been on Washington’s watch list of currency manipulators because of its trade surplus with the United States, a large current-account surplus and a perception that its central bank has been actively buying foreign currency.

ALSO READ: US, Vietnam complete dialogue on maritime issues

The US Treasury in August found that Vietnam’s currency was undervalued in 2019 by about 4.7 percent against the dollar due in part to government intervention.

Phuc asked Boehler to tell Trump and the USTR to “have a more objective assessment of reality in Vietnam” with regard to the trade imbalance.

The DFC said Boehler was in Vietnam to “discuss a broad spectrum of opportunities”. On Tuesday, the deputy governor of Vietnam’s state bank told USTR officials that it “operates within the framework of international monetary policy”.

READ MORE: Vietnam ratifies free trade deal with EU

Vietnam’s trade surplus with the United States, widened to US$44.3 billion in the first nine months of this year from US$33.96 billion a year earlier, according to Vietnam’s customs data.

The US Treasury Department is unlikely to release its long-delayed semi-annual report to Congress on international currency manipulation until after the US presidential election on Nov 3, a source familiar with the matter said on Friday.

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