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The Treasurer’s Voice: RMB Cross-Border Trade Settlement
by Helen Sanders, Editor
While the euro crisis continues unabated, a new currency is quietly emerging. The RMB is continuing its gradual but steady progress from a domestic to an international currency, and treasurers of companies of all sizes in all locations and representing every industry should now seriously consider the implications.
One of the first initiatives in RMB internationalisation was the launch of the RMB cross-border trade settlement scheme in 2008. This scheme has been extended gradually both in terms of the number of eligible Chinese companies, and the range of countries in which their trading partners are located. Since August 2011, the final restrictions on exporters were lifted, so any Chinese exporter or importer is now eligible to transact cross-border business in RMB, with foreign entities globally. A number of international banks have now received Settlement and Agent Bank licences, and are actively conducting cross-border trade and account opening in RMB. By the end of 2011, cross-border trade settled in RMB reached 2.58tr RMB ($408 bn).
In this month’s Treasurer’s Voice, in association with Treasury Strategies, Inc., we are delighted to be joined by John Laurens, Head of Global Payments and Cash Management, HSBC. We explore the degree of familiarity that treasurers have with the opportunities for RMB cross-border settlement. We also consider the extent to which they are using RMB for cross-border trade, and some of the drivers and constraints.
1. Use of RMB cross-border settlement
Currently, only a minority of companies use RMB for cross-border trade settlement. John Laurens, HSBC summarises,
“Although there are companies of varying sizes represented in the poll, it is notable that as many as two-thirds of respondents are not using RMB for trade settlement.”