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President Donald Trump signaled Thursday that he wants to keep the U.S. dollar's value lower to aid American companies selling products abroad.
In a candid exchange with Doug Oberhelman, Caterpillar's chairman and former CEO, Trump said that when the dollar rises "and we let other people manipulate their currencies, that's the one thing that stops you."
"We have to let other countries give you a level playing field," Trump told Oberhelman at a meeting of manufacturing executives at the White House.
Past presidents have often refrained from talking about the strength or weakness of the dollar. Treasury secretaries would address the currency's value, but would generally tout dollar strength as a sign of faith in the American economy, even at times when it posed a challenge to multinational companies.
A stronger dollar can drag on non-U.S. revenue for multinational companies like Caterpillar. The company cited a strengthening dollar last month when it cut its sales outlook for the year.
Trump's comment comes just a day after his new Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told The Wall Street Journal that a strong dollar is a "good thing."
Trump has repeatedly slammed countries for what he calls artificially weakening their currencies to make their exports more competitive. He has targeted China in particular, saying on the campaign trail that he wanted to label the Asian nation a currency manipulator on Day One of his administration.
Mnuchin, though, told CNBC on Thursday that the administration is not "making any judgments" on China until it goes goes through the process of "looking at currency manipulation across the board."