Free trade zones to drive internationalization of renminbi

Updated: Nov 7, 2019 By Shi Jing in Shanghai China Daily Print
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The central bank will implement more open and favorable financial policies to steadily advance the internationalization of the renminbi. [Photo/VCG]

The courageous experiments to be anticipated in the pilot free trade zones in China will grow into an important driving force for the internationalization of the renminbi, experts and industry leaders attending the ongoing second China International Import Expo said.

In his keynote speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the second CIIE held on Tuesday, President Xi Jinping said that China will continue to encourage bold trials and experiments in pilot free trade zones and quicken the development of the Hainan Free Trade Port, which will be the pacesetters in the opening-up of China.

Chen Yulu, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, said that Lingang Special Area - the newly added part of the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone announced in August - imposes higher requirements on financial services supporting the real economy. It will also lead to a higher level of financial opening-up and innovation.

The central bank will implement more open and favorable financial policies to steadily advance the internationalization of the renminbi as it is related to Lingang's functional positioning and industrial system.

The central bank will also study the possibilities of introducing more flexible supervision models and management mechanism for financial policies, which will in the long run help to build Lingang into a model of financial opening-up and innovation, he said.

"More fruitful results can be anticipated for the internationalization of renminbi, as the scale of China's social trade and investment continues to grow, and the two-way opening-up of the Chinese financial market carries on," said Chen.

Statistics released by the PBOC in late October showed that the balance of the domestic renminbi financial assets held by overseas institutions and individuals increased 2.93 percent year-on-year to exceed 5.86 trillion yuan ($836 billion).

Chen stressed that the structure of these assets has been changing, as overseas institutions and individuals focus increasingly on bond and stocks rather than simply putting funds on deposit.

Huo Yingli, director of the Macro Prudential Management Bureau of China's central bank, said at the forum on Wednesday that more innovative renminbi products should be rolled out in Lingang so that it can truly grow into a high point for China's new round of opening-up.

"Over the past decade, the China's central regulators have relaxed almost all the restrictions previously imposed on the cross-border use of renminbi. With that, renminbi can perform as much as what foreign currencies can do," she said.

Li Donghui, executive vice-president and CFO of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, also suggested setting up an onshore market for offshore renminbi trading in Lingang. In this way, China can have the pricing power of offshore renminbi in the real sense, he said.

Jerry Zhang, executive vice-chairman and CEO of Standard Chartered China, said innovative attempts in the Shanghai FTZ, including the introduction of free trade accounts and the cross-border two-way renminbi capital pool, have not only helped to solve companies' problems regarding capital management, but more importantly advanced the internationalization of the currency.

Introduced in June 2014, more than 136,000 free trade accounts have been registered and opened by the end of March this year.

The PBOC's Shanghai head office said in late September that it will conduct a trial to integrate the local currency and foreign currencies under the FT accounts in Lingang, and explore the mechanism for free flow of capital and exchange in this newly added part of the Shanghai FTZ.

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