September 26, 2012 / 7:56 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-US Treasury official to visit China for economic talks

WASHINGTON, Sept 26 (Reuters) - A top Obama administration official will travel to Beijing at the end of September to discuss ways to improve opportunities for U.S. businesses in China, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Wednesday.

Treasury Undersecretary Lael Brainard’s meetings with Chinese economic officials Sept. 26-27 come in the middle of the U.S. presidential campaign in which President Barack Obama’s economic policies have dominated the debate.

Obama’s Republican challenger Mitt Romney has accused the administration of being soft on China and has vowed to declare Beijing a currency manipulator should he win the presidency in November.

Brainard is visiting China before the Treasury Department is due to release a semi-annual currency report that examines the foreign exchange practices of major U.S. trading partners.

The report, which by law is required to be released Oct. 15 and April 15, is often delayed. The Romney campaign has said the Obama administration should formally declare China a currency manipulator and not delay the report.

When asked whether the Obama administration was considering labeling China, a White House spokesman said: “We’ve seen some improvement in the currency situation, but not enough. And it’s something that we press the Chinese on all the time.”

The manipulator label would be largely symbolic as it requires the United States to open discussions with China on adjusting the yuan’s value - a process that is already under way.

The last time China was labeled a currency manipulator was in 1994.

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