What it means if Trump names China a currency manipulator

Markets Associated Press

  • FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016, file photo, residents walk past a board highlighting the security markers on the latest Yuan note outside a bank in Beijing, China. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in the White House. He says Beijing keeps its currency low to unfairly benefit its exporters. But he’ll struggle to prove the case if it goes before the World Trade Organization: Economists say China isn’t meddling in markets to push the yuan lower; it’s doing the opposite, trying instead to keep it from falling faster. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

    FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016, file photo, residents walk past a board highlighting the security markers on the latest Yuan note outside a bank in Beijing, China. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to label China a currency manipulator ... on his first day in the White House. He says Beijing keeps its currency low to unfairly benefit its exporters. But he’ll struggle to prove the case if it goes before the World Trade Organization: Economists say China isn’t meddling in markets to push the yuan lower; it’s doing the opposite, trying instead to keep it from falling faster. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File) (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016, file photo, residents walk past a board highlighting the security markers on the latest Yuan note outside a bank in Beijing, China. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in the White House. He says Beijing keeps its currency low to unfairly benefit its exporters. But he’ll struggle to prove the case if it goes before the World Trade Organization: Economists say China isn’t meddling in markets to push the yuan lower; it’s doing the opposite, trying instead to keep it from falling faster. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

    FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 24, 2016, file photo, residents walk past a board highlighting the security markers on the latest Yuan note outside a bank in Beijing, China. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to label China a currency manipulator ... on his first day in the White House. He says Beijing keeps its currency low to unfairly benefit its exporters. But he’ll struggle to prove the case if it goes before the World Trade Organization: Economists say China isn’t meddling in markets to push the yuan lower; it’s doing the opposite, trying instead to keep it from falling faster. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File) (The Associated Press)

President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to name China a currency manipulator on his first day in the White House. There's only one problem - it's not true anymore.

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It's been years since the world's second-biggest economy has pushed down its currency to benefit Chinese exporters. And even if China were attempting a manipulation, the law targeting manipulators requires that the U.S. spend a year negotiating a solution before it can retaliate.

Still, the U.S-China trade relationship is lopsided with China selling a lot more to the U.S. than it buys. The resulting trade deficit in goods amounted to a staggering $289 billion through the first 10 months of 2016.

A former Commerce Department official, Amanda DeBusk, says naming China a currency manipulator is mostly "just a jaw-boning exercise."