The week in renminbi: Trade talks resume, China’s interbank system passes New Year test, foreign investment law set to pass

In this round-up, China and the US will talk in Beijing at the end of the week, China’s interbank payment and settlement system survived the Lunar New Year red packet frenzy and a draft of the foreign investment law will be submitted in early March.

  • By Rebecca Feng
  • 11 Feb 2019
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China and the United States will hold another round of high-level talks in Beijing on February 14 and 15, according to a Saturday announcement by the Ministry of Commerce. The US delegation, led by Robert Lighthizer and Steven Mnuchin, will arrive in Beijing on Monday. Deputy-level negotiations, led by deputy US trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish, will begin on Monday, the White House announced.

In other news, US president Donald Trump told reporters that it would be “unlikely” for him and president Xi Jinping to meet during Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam.

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Chin’s interbank payment and settlement system, UnionPay, processed Rmb261.7bn ($39bn) of virtual red envelopes on Lunar New Year’s eve. The amount marked an 81.3% increase from the year before, local media reported.

As a comparison, Alibaba’s Singles’ Day shopping festival recorded Rmb213.5bn in total sales in 24 hours in 2018.

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A draft of China’s foreign investment law will be submitted to the upcoming plenary session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on March 5. The law will officially be voted on by Chinese policymakers, although this is seen as little more than a rubber-stamping exercise.

The decision was made by the NPC standing Committee on Wednesday during its two-day session after a second reading of the draft law.

The new law will replace the three existing separate laws on Chinese-foreign equity joint ventures, non-equity joint ventures, and wholly foreign-owned enterprises.

Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, said the committee members agreed on the “significance and urgency of drafting the foreign investment law,” Xinhua reported. 

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Swift, the payment infrastructure provider, announced on January 31 that the RMB has retained the fifth position on the list of the most used payment currencies for domestic and international payments by value, with a 2.07% share in December.

Overall, RMB payments value decreased by 2.84% compared with November. Looking at only international payments and excluding payments within the Eurozone, the RMB ranked eighth in December, taking up 1.14% of total payments, Swift said.

Hong Kong still led the pack with 79% of all RMB clearing centres. The United Kingdom came second with 5.17% of the clearing centres.

The UK occupied the top spot in conducting RMB FX transactions, taking up 36.07% of the transactions while Hong Kong accounted for 29.61%.

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China’s January manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) increased slightly to 49.5 from 49.4 in December, according to data published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on January 31. Readings below 50 indicate contractions.

The small improvement was due largely to an improvement in the production and raw materials sub-indices. The other three sub-indices — new orders, employed person, and supplier delivery time — continued to decline.

Meanwhile, the Caixin manufacturing PMI fell to 48.3 in January, hitting the lowest level since February 2016.

“The two manufacturing PMIs diverged in January,” Maggie Wei, economist at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a February 1 research note. “The Caixin manufacturing PMI survey covers fewer companies in the sample, and it is more tilted towards small-sized companies than the NBS one.”

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Myanmar has added the renminbi as an official settlement currency alongside the Japanese yen, the Central Bank of Myanmar announced on February 2.

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The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has established a new bureau to replace its internal foreign exchange department, according to a February 2 statement by the State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform.

The new bureau will formulate macro-prudential policies, supervise financial agencies, draft regulations and laws, and managing financial risks. Since it replaced the previous foreign exchange department, it will also assess foreign exchange policies and promote cross border transactions that use the RMB.  


  • By Rebecca Feng
  • 11 Feb 2019

GlobalRMB Panda Bonds league table

Rank Arranger Share % by Volume
1 China Merchants Securities Co 26.40
2 Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) 20.00
3 China Securities 13.33
4 Agricultural Bank of China (ABC) 12.00
5 Bank of China (BOC) 11.33

Panda Bond Database

Pricing Date Issuer Country Size Rmb (m)
1 13-Mar-19 Global Logistic Properties via Iowa China Offshore Holdings Hong Kong 3,300
2 12-Mar-19 United Overseas Bank (UOB) Singapore 2,000
3 05-Mar-19 BMW Finance N.V. Germany 3,000
4 01-Mar-19 Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) China 1,500
5 25-Feb-19 New Development Bank China 3,000

Offshore RMB Bond Top Bookrunners

Rank Bookrunner Share % by Volume
1 Standard Chartered Bank 46.13
2 UBS 9.55
2 Haitong International Securities 9.55
2 Guotai Junan International 9.55
5 ANZ 5.73

Latest Offshore RMB Bonds

Pricing Date Issuer Country Size Rmb (m)
1 13-Mar-19 Daimler International Finance Germany 1,000
2 05-Mar-19 Fantasia Holdings Group Co China 1,000
3 26-Feb-19 Far East Horizon China 440
4 22-Feb-19 Asian Development Bank (ADB) Philippines 300
5 31-Jan-19 Emirates NBD United Arab Emirates 400