May 23, 2019 / 10:57 PM / a month ago

U.S. considers duties on countries that undervalue currency: Commerce Department

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Commerce Department said on Thursday it was proposing a new rule to impose anti-subsidy duties on products from countries that undervalue their currencies against the dollar, another move that could slap higher tariffs on Chinese products.

The new rule also could put goods from other countries at risk of higher tariffs, including Japan, South Korea, India, Germany and Switzerland.

Those countries, along with China, were all listed on the Treasury Department’s semi-annual currency report’s “monitoring list”, which tracks currency market interventions, high global current account surpluses and high bilateral trade surpluses.

The department said its proposed rule would amend the normal countervailing duty process to include new criteria for currency undervaluation. Trump administration officials have long viewed China’s yuan as undervalued against the dollar, despite the U.S.-China trade war, which foreign currency experts say has hurt the yuan’s value.

“This change puts foreign exporters on notice that the Department of Commerce can countervail currency subsidies that harm U.S. industries,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

“Foreign nations would no longer be able to use currency policies to the disadvantage of American workers and businesses,” he said.

It was a step toward making good on a campaign promise by U.S. President Donald Trump to address unfair currency practices, Ross said.

The department did not identify the specific criteria that it would use to evaluate whether U.S. pricing of a product was artificially low because of currency undervaluation.

Reporting by Makini Brice, David Lawder and Steve Holland; Editing by David Alexander and Grant McCool

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