China signs renminbi swap line deal with ECB
China’s RMB350 billion currency swap line with the ECB is seen as a major step forward in Beijing’s plans to internationalize the renminbi
A new swap line between the European Central Bank and the Peoples Bank of China underlines the growing international use of the Chinese currency.
The three-year bilateral currency swap line, which will be up to RMB350 billion (E45 billion), reflects rapidly growing bilateral trade and investment between the euro area and China, as well as the need to ensure the stability of financial markets, the ECB said in a statement. Europe accounted for 14% of Chinese trade in 2012, according to HSBC.
The announcement follows the release of data this week demonstrating that there is more activity in offshore RMB in Europe than in Asia outside of China and Hong Kong. Data from SWIFT showed that 62% of FX trading confirmations in RMB were conducted in the UK in the year to September, up from 54% in 2012, with France accounting for a further 10% and Switzerland 6%. At the same time, Singapores share dropped from 14% to 9%.
Given the significance of the eurozone, todays agreement is another major step forward in the RMBs internationalization process, said Ju Wang, senior FX strategist at HSBC, although she noted the market had expected to see a larger FX swap between the two central banks.
FX swap lines between PBOC and other central banks will become increasingly common. And the size of these FX swaps will likely get bigger over time.
Wang said she expected to see more such ties with the Americas, since the only one in place today is with Brazil, for whom China is the number one trading partner. In an illustration of the RMBs reach into that region, this week Citi Peru became the first bank in Latin America to issue letters of credit in RMB.
European issuers are also becoming more commonplace in the dim sum bond markets, in which RMB are raised offshore, usually in Hong Kong but increasingly London too. Total for example, raised RMB1 billion in Hong Kong in September, while HSBC launched the first dim sum bond in London and has been followed by Lloyds Bank, BP and Morgan Stanley, among others.
SWIFT also says that the RMB is now the 8th most traded currency in the world. London is achieving RMB volumes of around $5 billion a day, double the amount a year ago; by comparison, Hong Kong has moved from $8 billion to $13 billion in the same period, reflecting 113% growth in overall RMB trading volumes so far this year, SWIFT said.