Euro chiefs express 'worries' over US, China export squeeze

The men who run the euro single currency expressed "worries" on Monday about being squeezed out of competition for exports by two of their main global competitors, the United States and China.

After weeks of a rising euro, while both the dollar and the yuan have fallen, a shadow has been cast over a tentative export-led European recovery since the summer -- forcing euro policy leaders to adopt a dual strategy.

Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker said he, European Central Bank boss Jean-Claude Trichet and EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Joaquin Almunia would now turn their sights on Beijing before the year is out.

"We spent quite a long time discussing exchange rates tonight, it's a problem which has us worried," Luxembourg Prime Minister Juncker told reporters after a meeting of finance ministers from the 16 countries that use the euro.

In New York, the dollar again traded lower late Monday, the euro rising to 1.4958 dollars at 2100 GMT from 1.4903 dollars late in New York on Friday.

The United States, meanwhile, has itself attacked China for a "lack of flexibility" in its yuan currency, which has depreciated 6.9 percent against the dollar since February.

Trichet said it was the trio's "common position" that the "excessive volatility" of currency movements had clearly "negative implications for the economic and financial stability" of Europe's economy as a whole.

Despite repeated attempts at cajoling Washington into backing its 'strong dollar' mantra with concrete signs of rising value, analysts and traders have said the value of the euro could yet regain its all-time high of 1.60 dollars.

Meantime, the falling yuan -- not to mention the pound, with Britain the other major buyer of eurozone goods and services -- further threatens European prospects at a time when leaders are still pumping billions of stimulus funding into their economies.

"It is foreseen that the three of us will travel to China before the end of this year and discuss the exchange rate policy," said Juncker, without giving any detail as to what message they would carry.

Experts have warned that the spluttering economic recovery in Europe is endangered by a dive in the value of the dollar which analysts say Washington covets in order to lower debts to China and boost exports.

There is concern in Europe that Washington is seeking a short-term boost to its own exports and a long-term reduction in the value of government and private debts, much of which is held in China.

The European Commission reckons that appreciation in euro value against the dollar of 10 percent in real terms would see exports fall by around 2.5 percent within two years.

After US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke reiterated the US public stance backing a strong dollar, Trichet said the European trio shared the same "appreciation" of Bernanke's remarks.

At a G20 summit in Pittsburgh last month, world leaders unveiled a new vision for economic governance, with bold plans to fix global imbalances and give more clout to emerging giants such as China and India.

However, Juncker said Friday that "if the euro's direction were to continue to move along the lines of recent weeks, there is a risk... that it could slow economic recovery in Europe."

France's Finance Minister Christine Lagarde added after Monday's late-night talks in Luxembourg: "We repeated together that we wanted a strong dollar, that we needed a strong dollar."

European Union finance ministers will meet later Tuesday with disagreements over when to implement exit strategies still dividing their number.

source AFP

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