Romney's stance on China debated

Updated: 2012-08-30 00:57

By Zhang Yuwei in Tampa, Florida (China Daily)

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It is common knowledge that the economy is foremost in US voters' minds as the 2012 presidential and congressional elections approach. Less clear is the domestic economic impact of international trade, especially with China and Latin America, according to experts attending this week's Republican National Convention.

At the same time, trade between the United States and China has been politicized this election year despite the risks of harming the lucrative relationship between the world's two biggest economies.

Mitt Romney, who was formally nominated on Tuesday at the Republican convention in Tampa, Florida, has been outspoken in his views on China. The former Massachusetts governor and co-founder of private-equity firm Bain Capital has accused President Barack Obama of lacking toughness in handling trade issues with China. Romney claims renminbi is kept artificially cheap, giving Chinese exports an unfair advantage over US goods.

John Engler, a former Michigan governor and now president of the pro-trade Business Roundtable, said on Tuesday that the US must contend with other aspects of trade policy, including free-trade agreements with other countries. Currency undervaluation is "not just a China problem", he said.

"China is exacerbated because of the size of the trade volume that flows back and forth," Engler said during a panel discussion on trade inside the convention arena.

Romney has vowed several times during the campaign that he would label China a "currency manipulator" on his first day in office if he's elected.

Participants on the panel, which was organized by financial news provider Bloomberg LP and the convention's Tampa Bay Host Committee, questioned that pledge, however. Several said Romney either wouldn't attempt to make such a move immediately as president or, more likely, that it's merely "campaign rhetoric".

"It would be a delicate challenge for the Romney administration," said Engler, adding that there are "many other urgent issues".

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