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India Thailand risk landing on currency manipulator watchlist

India Thailand risk landing on currency manipulator watchlist

MUMBAI: India and Thailand may have to give freer rein to the rupee and baht this year to avoid triggering U.S. accusations that they’re manipulating their currencies to support exports. The Reserve Bank of India has already exceeded a key threshold on how much it can intervene to curb the rupee’s gains that the U.S. monitors, according to Nomura Holdings Inc. Policy makers in Thailand have also passed this level with the baht, said Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. Should the two countries’ central banks seek to assuage U.S. concerns  and avoid a range of possible penalties it would likely lead to gains for their currencies, potentially reducing their export competitiveness. For all the efforts of policy makers last year, the baht appreciated almost 10 percent against the dollar, while the rupee climbed 6.4 percent. The threat of U.S. complaints will support more appreciation in Asian currencies in general this year, said Rajeev De Mello, head of Asian fixed income at Schroder Investment Management Ltd. in Singapore. There’s been a notable reduction in intervention from the three North Asian central banks, according to Schroder Investment and Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “Thailand and India have been two exceptions, which have been actively accumulating reserves to stem appreciation pressure on their currencies,” said Khoon Goh, head of research at ANZ in Singapore. Thailand isn’t one of the top 12 trade partners that the U.S. normally focuses on but could find itself under scrutiny if the net is cast wider, Goh said. The rupee and baht have made strong starts to the year, gaining 0.6 percent and 1 percent against the dollar, respectively.