updated 7/15/2005 7:21:43 AM ET 2005-07-15T11:21:43

The Bush administration has told key senators that it expects China to revalue its currency in August ahead of a planned visit to Washington by President Hu Jintao in September, according to people familiar with the matter.

Senators Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham, co-sponsors of a bill that would impose a 27.5 per cent tariff on Chinese imports, agreed to delay a vote on their bill after receiving what they regarded as an assurance that China will move on its currency next month.

In a June meeting attended by Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve chairman, John Snow, Treasury secretary, told the senators that he believed China would allow the value of the renminbi to increase against the dollar in August, the people familiar with the discussion said.

"Senator Graham and I believe that the administration is convinced that China will begin a revaluation process this summer, forced by our bill's success in the Senate," Mr. Schumer told the FT.

Asked how Congress would respond if China did not move over the summer, Mr. Schumer replied: "Every day support grows [for our bill]".

The US Treasury has told Beijing it needs to revalue the renminbi by at least 10 per cent against the dollar. Mr. Snow reiterated on Thursday that the US wanted China to move "as soon as possible."

The tabular content relating to this article is not available to view. Apologies in advance for the inconvenience caused. China is considering introducing a currency regime similar to the managed float operated by Singapore. Under this system the renminbi would be pegged to a basket of currencies reflecting the country's trade, but the details of the weights of the basket would not be made public, a person familiar with the Chinese administration's thinking said.

Tony Fratto, Treasury spokesman, said: "Secretary Snow did not provide an assurance on a specific time-frame for when China would reform its currency regime. Targeting a specific date or time-frame is counter-productive. That said, it is clear that China is prepared to move now. It would be in the best interests of China, and the global financial system, if these reforms came sooner rather than later."

At the June meeting Mr. Snow and Mr. Greenspan argued that the bill would be counter-productive because it would make it politically more difficult for China to act.

In an interview Mr. Graham said the White House went "bonkers" after an April procedural vote in which an unexpected 67 senators expressed support for the bill, and asked the senators to delay a vote. "There is a good faith on both sides now that might develop into something of substance," he said.

The debate over the renminbi will be fuelled, in China as well as in the US, by news that the country's foreign exchange reserves increased by more than $100 billion in the first six months of this year to $711 billion.

China's foreign reserves are on track to break $1 trillion by June next year if it continues to expand at the present rate.

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.


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