US alone in yuan focus for the G20

City A.M. Reporter
US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner faces a lonely campaign to make China’s currency a major issue at the next Group of 20 summit as would-be allies shrink from confronting Beijing.

Pressured by US lawmakers, Geithner vowed last week to mobilise countries at the 11-12 November summit in South Korea to press China for faster appreciation of the yuan.

Interviews with officials from G20 countries suggest that Geithner – who has acknowledged that few countries are willing to confront China – could be leading a posse of one in Seoul.

“The US is more determined than the rest of the G20 to get something out of China on the yuan,” a Eurozone monetary official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“It’s largely a bilateral matter with the rest looking on as spectators, either because they don’t count enough or because they aren’t very interested,” the official said.

South Korean Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun ruled out the yuan as a G20 topic, saying the forum might take up exchange rates in general or their impact on the global economy.

Geithner’s drive to make China’s currency policy a G20 summit issue appears to be a way to buy time for President Barack Obama’s administration in the run-up to the 2 November elections.