President Donald Trump’s administration said on Friday that Vietnam’s measures to devalue its currency were “unreasonable” and restrict US trade, but did not take immediate measures to impose punitive tariffs.
The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), upon releasing the findings of the so-called Article 301 investigation into Vietnam’s currency practices, announced that it would continue to evaluate all options available to rectify the situation.
The process will pass to the administration of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden, who is due to take office on Wednesday.
The US Treasury in December described Vietnam as a “currency manipulator” due to its growing trade surplus with the United States, a large global current account surplus and massive interference in the foreign exchange market to devalue its dong.
Business groups and trade experts feared that this would lead to tariffs in the US Trade Representative’s office investigation that opened last October as a watershed from Republican Trump, who aggressively imposed tariffs during his four years in office.
The Office of the US Trade Representative said it had consulted with the Treasury on exchange rate policies in Vietnam.
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement that “unfair acts, policies and practices that contribute to devaluation harm American workers and companies, and need to be addressed.”
“I hope the United States and Vietnam can find a way to address our concerns.”
Article 301 investigation – It is named after a provision in the U.S. Trade Code – It was the same tool that Lighthizer used to wage an all-out tariff war against China, which left a punitive US tariff on $ 370 billion in annual Chinese imports and prompted many companies to move supply chains outside of China.
Vietnam has been a major recipient of investment from those companies seeking to avoid US tariffs on China.
The decision by the Office of the United States Trade Representative to delay imposing tariffs on Vietnamese goods gives Biden’s candidate as trade representative, Kathryn Tay, a breathtaking opportunity in deciding how to deal with Vietnam.
A spokesman for Biden’s transition team declined to comment on the decision of the US Trade Representative’s office.
This move coincided with other decisions of the Commercial Office in recent days against imposing tariffs on France, Austria, Britain, Italy, Spain, India and Turkey in response to taxes on digital services.