U.S. probing whether Vietnam undervalues its currency

(Reuters) – The United States is opening an investigation into whether Vietnam has been undervaluing its currency and harming U.S. commerce, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a statement on Friday.

The probe was launched at President Donald Trump’s direction, according to the statement.

Vietnam has been on Washington’s watch list of currency manipulators because of its trade surplus with the United States, a large current-account surplus and a perception that its central bank has been actively buying foreign currency.

Vietnam’s central bank governor Le Minh Hung said on Friday that his country “has not intended and will not intend to use monetary policies in general and exchange rates in particular to create unfair competitive advantage in international trade.”

“We will continue to maintain exchange rate stability and keep inflation under control,” Hung told a news briefing after meeting with his Southeast Asian counterparts.

Vietnam’s trade surplus with the United States, its largest export market, widened to $37.7 billion in the first eight months of this year from $29.8 billion in the same period last year, according to Vietnam’s customs data.