News / Asia

Talks and Tensions Continue in Washington on Currency Issues

Talks and tensions continued on currency issues in Washington Friday, as economic officials from around the world tried to resolve disputes that could hurt the economic recovery.  

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said efforts to resolve currency and trade issues are going too slowly.  

He implied, in complex economic and diplomatic language, that China should seek more economic growth from domestic demand, and less from exports.

China is one of several nations that has taken steps to weaken its currency, something that has annoyed trading partners. China denies doing anything unfair and says abruptly raising the value of its money could hurt economies around the world.

The disputes prompted International Monetary Fund Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn to urge member nations to work harder for solutions. "We are gathered here at the pivotal moment, facing a very uncertain future.  Yes, the recovery is here and when we look at the figures we see that at the global level , growth is coming back.  But we all know that it is fragile and uneven and fragile because uneven," said Strauss-Khan.

Currency disputes frustrated Brazilian Finance Minister Guide Mantega when actions by trading partners hurt his nation's exports by pushing up the value of his currency.  He previously said currency disputes had become a "war," but he now thinks it is possible to eventually work out agreements.  "I am optimistic because I think we can solve the problem through collective action," he said.

A cheaper currency gives a nation's goods a price advantage on international markets.  But it also makes it harder for a nation to import goods made elsewhere.   If too many countries cut the value of their currencies, it could stall international trade and hurt economic growth.

These discussions are taking place at meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

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