Taking cover on a sensitive international trade issue that has become political fodder on the campaign trail, the Obama administration said on Friday it was delaying until after the Nov. 6 election a decision on whether China should be labeled a currency manipulator, handing a gift to Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
Just three days before its Oct. 15 deadline, the Treasury Department announced late Friday that it would delay releasing its semi-annual report to Congress on international economic and exchange rate policies, in which it would need to weigh in on China, until after a G-20 meeting of finance ministers and central bankers scheduled for next month.
Romney has talked tough on China on the campaign trail, vowing that one of his first acts as president would be to deem the country a currency manipulator. Obama has stopped short of such rhetoric, relying on pressure and other tactics to get the message across to Beijing that Washington wants to see reforms on currency and trade. The Romney campaign, which has accused Obama of being a "doormat" on China, is likely to seize on the delay as it seeks to highlight economic policy differences between the two candidates in the final stretch of the election campaign.