Pudong New Area gears up to boost renminbi’s international role

The growing internationalization of the renminbi will play a crucial role as Pudong New Area shoulders the new responsibilities given to it by the central authorities, experts said.

Pudong — Shanghai’s reform and opening-up showpiece — is set to pioneer China’s socialist modernization and higher level of reform and opening-up, according to the guideline released by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, China’s Cabinet, on July 15.

Under the guideline, Pudong will further expand financial opening-up, promote the cross-border, two-way flow of the renminbi, build an offshore financial system that matches Shanghai’s position as a world financial center, and support Pudong in developing offshore renminbi transactions so long as the risks are controllable.

Chinese monetary authorities will support Shanghai taking the lead in the free use of the renminbi and explore free capital inflow and outflow and free currency exchange in China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone’s Lingang Special Area, said Wang Xin, director of research at the People’s Bank of China, on July 20.

Efforts should be made to promote the use of the renminbi as a payment currency, said Zhang Xiaolei, president of Standard Chartered China.

“The use of the renminbi should not be confined to financial trading. It should be closely related to the real economy. In this sense, efforts should be made to convince more importers and exporters to use the renminbi as the major payment currency,” she said.

The outlook on the widened use and scope of renminbi is quite positive, said Zhang. China’s strong economic recovery amid COVID-19 pandemic has been quite outstanding among all the world economies. The strong macroeconomic readings have helped to ensure the stability of the renminbi. The stable exchange rate of the renminbi is beneficial to both parties involved in commodities trade, she said.

Hong Kong, Singapore, and London, which are the world’s major offshore trading centers of the renminbi, have seen their scale in using renminbi significantly improve over the past few years, said Zhang. Their development has gradually gone beyond geographic boundaries and reached into more parts of the global market, which is closely related to building an ecosystem conducive to the use of the renminbi.

“Therefore, apart from focusing on the renminbi’s payment function, efforts should be made to expand more usage scenarios when the currency flows back to China. In this sense, more domestic financial products should be made accessible to overseas investors so that a complete cycle of the renminbi flow is built,” Zhang said.

The Global Public Investors 2021 report released by the London-based Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum on July 21 said some 30 percent of central banks worldwide plan to increase their renminbi holdings over the next 12 to 24 months, compared to just 10 percent last year. Meanwhile, 70 percent of central banks said they will increase their involvement over the longer term.

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