U.S. consumer inflation reported up sharply

Section:

By Elaine Kurtenbach
Associated Press
Friday, October 14, 2005

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051014/ap_on_bi_ge/china_currency

BEIJING -- China will loosen currency controls only gradually in
order to preserve its economic stability, its finance minister said
Friday ahead of a meeting with finance officials from the United
States, Europe and other key trading partners.

Finance Minister Jin Renqing's comments underscored Beijing's
resistance to pressure by the United States and others to let the
Chinese yuan trade freely. Officials were expected to press those
demands during the Group of 20 meeting that begins Saturday.

"Our hope is, first of all, to realize a manageable currency rate
system based on the supply and demand of the market economy," Jin
said after meeting with Gordon Brown, Britain's chancellor of the
exchequer, or finance minister.

"The goal is to maintain a stable currency rate system. We are
moving toward that goal in steps," Jin said.

Brown gave measured praise for China's move on July 21 to raise the
yuan's value by 2.1 percent against the dollar and to switch to a
more flexible system that bases it on a basket of currencies,
including the yen and euro.

"We welcome the progress to flexibility that has been made in China
and note from the minister that it is the Chinese government's
intention that this is the direction they want to move further to at
a later stage," he said.

Since the July revaluation, Chinese officials have ruled out any
more one-off revaluations, saying they will allow the currency's
value to adjust gradually, through the market. Beijing limits the
yuan's movement to a narrow range. In the past three months, the
yuan has appreciated only about 0.3 percent.

Beijing's trading partners are urging it to move faster. They say
the yuan is undervalued by up to 40 percent, giving Chinese
exporters an unfair price advantage and hurting foreign competitors.

The currency issue is on the agenda of the summit of finance
officials of the Group of Twenty industrial and developing nations,
hosted by China for the first time.

U.S. Treasury Secretary, John Snow, who arrived in China earlier
this week, earlier emphasized his desire to see Beijing let the yuan
trade more freely in world markets and this week has pressed China
to further develop its financial markets and trade.

After visiting Shanghai's showcase stock exchange and foreign
exchange trading center, he traveled on to the western city of
Chengdu -- to see how economic reforms are progressing in the
country's interior, where the majority of China's 1.3 billion people
live.

On Friday, Snow met with Ma Kai, head of China's main economic
planning agency, the National Development Reform Commission. Details
of that meeting were not available.

The administration of President Bush is anxious to do something
about China's huge trade surplus with the U.S., which surged to $162
billion last year, a record U.S. trade gap with any country.

During the G-20 meeting, Snow and other U.S. officials may well face
criticism of the United States' massive trade and budget deficits.

"America knows it has got to deal with its deficit problems so that
it, too, can promise it is making its proper and best contributions
to the world economy," Brown told reporters.

The G-20 nations account for 90 percent of global gross domestic
product, 80 percent of global trade and two-thirds of the world's
population.

They include the Group of Seven industrialized nations as well as
the European Union, China, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, India,
Australia, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia,
South Africa, and Turkey. Top representatives of the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank will also attend the meeting, being
held at a resort outside Beijing.

The aim of the meeting is to discuss imbalances in development,
limits to the international economic system and other broad issues,
the official Xinhua News Agency cited Jin as saying.

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