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Yuan to figure more in Sino-African trade

Updated: 2012-07-13 13:26
By Wang Xiaotian ( China Daily)

Yuan to figure more in Sino-African trade

Chinese and African traders are becoming increasingly interested in settling transactions in yuan. [Photo/China Daily] 

Trade between China and Africa will be increasingly settled in yuan, and Chinese financial institutions should prepare for that development, said a senior executive at African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on Thursday.

Chinese and African traders are becoming increasingly enthusiastic about settling transactions in yuan. In light of that, lenders must cooperate more and move faster to restructure their businesses, said Okey Oramah, executive vice-president at Afreximbank.

"We are working together with the Export-Import Bank of China and regulators to make sure such transitions would go stably," said Oramah.

He made the remarks while attending a media conference in Beijing held in advance of a Sino-African financial cooperation forum on Friday.

The Export-Import Bank of China, a policy bank for the country, holds about 2.5 percent of Afreximbank's shares. The Chinese bank now has $130 billion in outstanding loans to Africa, according to Sun Ping, vice-president of the lender.

China has been working to internationalize its currency. Last year, more than 2 trillion yuan ($313.7 billion) in international trade was settled in yuan, of which 92 percent was conducted in Hong Kong.

In the first half of the year, 1.25 trillion yuan worth of trade was settled in yuan, up by 76 percent year-on-year. And the amount of foreign direct investment settled in the Chinese currency stood at 110.5 billion yuan, according to data released by the central bank on Thursday.

"In the next five years we will see a big increase in the amount of trade between China and Africa that is settled in yuan," said Mei Xinyu, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.

"China's demand for natural resources in Africa and Africa's demand for Chinese products are all big and constant, which sets a sound foundation for both sides to take payments in and make payments out in yuan,"

He forecast about 30 percent of trade between China and Africa will be settled in yuan by 2016, saying the proportion could even be as high as 50 percent.

China is Africa's largest trading partner, with $160 billion worth of trade volume last year. In both 2010 and 2011, the value of trade between the two sides increased by about 30 percent year-on-year.

By the end of 2011, China had invested nearly $15 billion in Africa, and more than 2,000 Chinese enterprises had put money into the continent, Sun said.

Oramah said investments and capital flow between China and Africa have increased at a slower pace than growth in bilateral trade, "which means that the cooperation in that regard hasn't seized the opportunities brought about by the rapid growth in trade".

He said the two places' financial cooperation, in its next stage, should place a priority on the private sector.