The president of an association of chief executives of major U.S. companies said today that he doubts Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney will follow through with a threat to brand China a currency manipulator on his first day in office as president.
John Engler, president of the Business Roundtable and a former Republican governor of Michigan, made the comments at a breakfast discussion of international trade at the Republican National Convention sponsored by Bloomberg and the Tampa Bay Host Committee.
Asked whether he supported Romney’s pledge of an immediate designation, Engler responded, “I don’t think that he will” – though the business association leader added, “I think he will take a look at it.”
Engler called designation of China as a currency manipulator “very politically delicate,” given the sensitivities of the Chinese government leadership. Still, he added, “a lot of economists” have concluded that China’s currency is undervalued.
Engler said Romney also would confront procedural hurdles in making the designation on his first day. Engler added that he hoped the Chinese government would “react” to a potential Romney election by allowing the country’s currency to rise in value during the transition period before the Republican took office.
Engler added that pressing to the Chinese government to take more effective action to protect intellectual property such is “for many more important.”
Romney’s campaign Web site says that one of five executive orders the Republican would issue on his first day in the White House would be one that directs the Treasury Department to list China as a currency manipulator and instructs the Commerce Department “to assess countervailing duties on Chinese imports if China does not quickly move to float its currency.”