Will the US Label China a Currency Manipulator? Not Likely

This has become one of the key questions lately as the US Treasury Secretary is set to release the semi-annual report on the FX policies of trade partners next week. However, although President Trump repeatedly states that China is a currency manipulator, the current law does not justify such a label.
As the US law stands right now, China lives up to only one of the three criteria needed to designate the country a currency manipulator. The Treasury has established thresholds for these criteria that is specified in the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.
The criteria and thresholds are
China only lives up to the first of these criteria as the current account surplus has narrowed considerably and is actually close to zero. China is also not intervening to weaken the CNY. On the contrary, it is currently intervening to slow the depreciation.
We therefore still doubt that the Treasury would be able to label China a currency manipulator officially. However, the US will probably send a clear warning to China not to start using the currency as a tool in the trade war and highlight that it is watching things closely. China has repeatedly stated that it would not use the CNY as a tool.
The table below shows the April report evaluating the different countries:

There has been some talk that Trump wanted a change to the criteria so that China could be officially labelled a currency manipulator. However, it would likely require a change to the 2015 Act and hence does not seem probable ahead of the upcoming report next week.
Here’s a link to the latest report from April. We do not know the exact day of the release other than it is scheduled for next week.

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