More active renminbi role urged for HK

Updated: 2011-12-15 13:49

By Oswald Chen (China Daily)

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Hong Kong - The central government wants Hong Kong to play a more active role in developing offshore yuan businesses, Vice Commerce Minister Wang Chao said on Wednesday, noting the city has an "indispensable" role to play in the internationalization of the currency.

"Hong Kong has an irreplaceable role in the development of offshore yuan business," Wang said in a speech delivered in Hong Kong at a seminar organized by the SAR government. "We would like Hong Kong to play a more active role."

Wang added that since Beijing issued rules governing yuan foreign direct investment (FDI) on the mainland in October, a total of 16.53 billion yuan ($2.6 billion) has been allowed to flow into 74 projects with 70 percent of the funds coming from Hong Kong.

The People's Bank of China will also ensure that offshore yuan policy moves are "progressive and done in phases", said Li Bo, the director-general of the central bank's monetary policy department.

"The FDI scheme will create robust demand for the currency by eliminating exchange rate risks for enterprises, thereby consolidating the city's status as an offshore yuan market," Hong Kong Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury K.C. Chan said at the same seminar.

Wang said the country would "fine tune" its yuan FDI policy on the mainland to create more convenience and transparency, but did not elaborate.

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang unveiled a string of economic measures to further develop the offshore yuan market in Hong Kong on Aug 17. The most prominent measure included a pilot scheme to allow local enterprises to make yuan FDI on the mainland.

According to the FDI rules announced by the mainland government in October, any FDI projects that involve more than 300 million yuan should be reviewed by the Ministry of Commerce. Under the new rules, local and foreign enterprises can use yuan funds raised through legitimate channels overseas to invest in mainland investment projects except listed securities and financial derivatives.

Local financial experts said that the implementation of the FDI plan would further boost the yuan-denominated bond and syndicated loan market in the city.

"We expect yuan bond issuance will reach 260 to 310 billion yuan in 2012," HSBC Hong Kong Chief Executive Anita Fung said at the seminar.

Outstanding yuan loans in Hong Kong reached 19 billion yuan as of the end of September, eight times that of the start of 2011, according to Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) figures.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's securities market regulatory body, the Securities and Futures Commission, reported that it has received more than 10 applications for RMB qualified foreign institutional investor (RQFII) statues from local fund managers, according to its deputy chief executive Alexa Lam. Under the scheme, qualified fund managers will be permitted to establish investment funds with yuan raised out of the mainland to primarily invest in mainland stocks and bonds

In October, Hong Kong's yuan deposits reached 618.5 billion yuan, according to the HKMA data.

Reuters contributed to this story.