Business / Markets

Global interest grows in China's currency, debt: Fitch

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-01-25 16:02

BEIJING -- The Chinese currency yuan, or renminbi, continues its ascent among international payment settlements, trade and currency investment, ratings agency Fitch said in their latest report.

A rapidly expanding network of offshore yuan clearing centers has facilitated direct access to China's onshore financial markets, Fitch said.

"We expect the proliferation of these offshore clearing centers to drive greater issuance of dim sum bonds by both Chinese and non-Chinese governments, financial institutions and corporates in 2015," it said.

Dim sum bonds are yuan-denominated bonds issued outside the Chinese mainland. They originated in Hong Kong and the term comes a style of essentially Cantonese cuisine that involves a variety of small delicacies.

In 2014, eight new offshore yuan clearing centers opened in major financial centers - Doha, Frankfurt, London, Luxembourg, Paris, Seoul, Sydney and Toronto. So far in 2015, another two have opened their doors in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. There are now 14 offshore yuan clearing centers.

These banks convert local currency directly into renminbi without using a US dollar stepping stone, reducing time and costs. Hong Kong controls the vast majority of offshore yuan flow, though the share is now about 70 percent, down from an average of around 80 percent in 2012.

According to payment services company SWIFT, more than 50 countries and regions now use the yuan for more than 10 percent of their payments with China's mainland and Hong Kong.

The expansion of clearing centers underlines the potential of dim sum bonds in 2015 and beyond. The size of the dim sum bond market has grown from an equivalent 5 billion U.S. dollars at the end of 2009 to approximately $70 billion at the end of 2014, though it is still a tiny fraction of the 5.8-trillion-U.S.-dollar local yuan bond market.

In October 2014, the British government became the first non-Chinese sovereign to issue dim sum bonds worth 3 billion yuan ($490 million). Australia's New South Wales government then issued 1 billion yuan in dim sum bonds, two days after Sydney became a clearing center in November.

Fitch expects other sovereigns with clearing centers to follow suit with their own dim sum bond issues in 2015.

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