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PBOC: Market to determine exchange rate
By Han Lei (China Daily)
2007-10-19 07:33

 China's central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan speaks during a news conference in Beijing October 18, 2007. [Reuters]

The market will play a bigger role in determining the exchange rate of the yuan and eventually make it fully convertible, the country's top banker said Thursday.

"Supply and demand forces in the market will play a bigger role in setting the yuan's rate," Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of People's Bank of China (PBOC) said on the sidelines of the Party congress.

Talking about recent complaints from European countries over the renminbi exchange rate, Zhou said worries may arise from the rapid increase in China's trade surplus with EU. He also cited the weakening dollar, which has exerted upward pressure on the euro's value, before expressing his sympathy for those affected.

A vice-governor of PBOC will meet EU's central bankers to discuss their concerns at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in Washington next week, he said.

He went on to say the free convertibility of the yuan under capital accounts will be eventually realized. However, Zhou said China has not set a timetable for free convertibility, adding that his agency will adjust the pace according to feedback.

On the domestic economy, Zhou said his agency would take a more aggressive approach in preventing it from overheating and curbing inflation.

"The economic temperature is somewhat hot, the consumer price index relatively high, and the speed of growth relatively fast compared to last year and the year before that," he said.

Zhou pledged to use monetary tools to keep the economy on track, including the interest rate and exchange rate, adjustment in bank reserve ratios, and open market operations.

When asked if a hike of 27 basis points in each of the central bank's interest rate adjustments this year was enough to produce a marked effect, Zhou said: "There is a degree of freedom on the scale of change when deciding to choose a monetary tool. For example, the interest rate could change by 27 or 54 basis points, while the bank reserve ratio shift may be 1.0, 0.5 or 0.25 percentage points."

He pledged further measures to absorb liquidity from the economy.

Calling excess liquidity a global issue, he said the monetary policies adopted by his agency have been quite useful in mopping it up. "However, with conditions changing, we could beef up our efforts," he said.

In the medium and long term, the global community must manage to put an end to the imbalance in the world's economy so as to root out this problem, he said.

Zhou attributed excess liquidity in the country to rapid economic development, rising incomes, the central bank's release of cash for foreign currency brought in by the surging trade surplus and increasing foreign investment.

On surging asset prices in China, Zhou said monetary policy does not apply to asset prices directly. However, in times of tremendous volatility, monetary policies could be of some help, reducing the impact on the real economy.

On the entry of Taiwan's financial institutions to the mainland, he said the biggest hurdle was separatist activities.

A memorandum of cooperation and exchange between the central banks and other agencies across the Taiwan Straits should precede the opening of the mainland market, but separatists had made the exchanges impossible, he said.


  Hu Jintao -- General Secretary of CPC Central Committee
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