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At the forefront of financial reform

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-10-22 10:23
Lujiazui aims to become a global centre for asset management, reports Wu Yiyao.
Just hours after China’s central bank announced the launch of the China International Payment System on Oct 8, Standard Chartered Bank (China) Ltd said it had used the global system to complete one of Shanghai’s first renminbi clearing transactions.

As one of the first batch of eight qualified lenders to do such business through the worldwide payment expressway, the London-headquartered Standard Chartered Bank said on the day of the CIPS launch that it completed more than 200 transactions for its clients, all of which have national or regional headquarters in Lujiazui, the vanguard of China’s financial innovation and reform and a hub for the internationalisation of RMB business.

In the past, lenders had to do business through one of the offshore RMB clearing banks in offshore RMB centres such as Hong Kong, Singapore or London or by other means with the help of a corresponding bank on the Chinese mainland. “The newly launched China International Payment System cuts the transaction costs and processing time for payments,” said Helen Wong, president and chief executive of HSBC Bank (China) Co Ltd.

China has been making efforts to accelerate internationalisation of the RMB and boost its use in international trade and financial transactions. To this end, the Belt and Road Initiative and expanding the global use of the Chinese currency have been mutually supportive.

“The increasing commodity trade, infrastructure financing, development of industrial parks and cross-border commerce should play a significant role in pushing forward wider use of the currency,” according to an annual research report on RMB internationalisation and global trade released in October by Renmin University of China’s currency research team.

Many market experts have said they believe President Xi Jinping’s visit to Britain will also benefit China’s financial market opening-up and reform as enhancing the global use of the RMB, deepening financial co-operation and strengthening collaboration amid reforms of the international monetary and financial system are among the major topics China and Britain have been discussing in recent years.

And since Britain is China’s largest outbound investment destination in Europe and London is one of the international offshore RMB centres, there is much potential for the countries to further work together, said Alan Yarrow, Lord Mayor of the City of London, during a visit to China in September.

Authorities and enterprises in Lujiazui have been working hard to leverage the prestige of having the pilot free trade zone and being pioneers of China’s financial reform and innovation, according to the Shanghai Lujiazui Financial and Trade Zone Management Committee.

“Lujiazui has a goal to become a global asset management centre and a global wealth management centre, expanding its calibre to serve domestic and global investors,” said the committee’s work report.

The government has said it plans to deliver more services and act efficiently to bring more companies and business into the financial hub to support financial innovation and reform by leveraging more resources as the RMB opens up to the global market.

“Lujiazui Finance and Trade Zone will establish platforms for information exchange between regulators and local authorities. Since the start of this year, we’ve organised conferences and workshops for enterprises to share their successful experience of emerging business, such as the free trade accounts at Bank of China, Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and HSBC,” said the committee report.

The report said the committee wished to optimise Lujiazui’s capacity to allocate global resources by combining Shanghai’s efforts to become an international financial centre with the reforms at Shanghai Free Trade Zone.

Authorities have also said they want to deliver more services to expose overseas capital to domestic private equity and facilitate cross-border capital allocations.

In September, Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, Europe’s largest listed fund manager, was granted a business license to operate in China and located its office in Lujiazui. According to Martin Gilbert, the company’s chief executive, the office will be a wholly owned subsidiary that offers investment opportunities to both Chinese and foreign investors.

Moves to open up China’s financial market have included the launch of the international board of the gold exchange at Shanghai Free Trade Zone by the Shanghai Gold Exchange in September last year, lifting the ceiling on foreign currency deposits and opening up the free trade accounts at the free trade zone, all of which first operated for lenders, trade companies and other firms in Lujiazui.

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