China's Exchange Rate Peg: Economic Issues and Options for U.S. Trade Policy [Updated May 10, 2005]   [open pdf - 177KB]

If the yuan is undervalued against the dollar, there are likely to be both benefits and costs to the U.S. economy. It would mean that imported Chinese goods are cheaper than they would be if the yuan were market determined. This lowers prices for U.S. consumers and diminishes inflationary pressures. It also lowers prices for U.S. firms that use imported inputs (such as parts) in their production, making such firms more competitive. When the U.S. runs a trade deficit with the Chinese, this requires a capital inflow from China to the United States. This, in turn, lowers U.S. interest rates and increases U.S. investment spending. On the negative side, lower priced goods from China may hurt U.S. industries that compete with those products, diminishing their production and employment. In addition, an undervalued yuan makes U.S. exports to China more expensive, thus diminishing the level of U.S. exports to China and job opportunities for U.S. workers in those sectors. However, in the long run, trade can affect only the composition of employment, not its overall level. Thus, inducing China to appreciate its currency would likely benefit some U.S. economic sectors, but would harm others, including U.S. consumers.

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32165
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