Norman Chan pitches Hong Kong yuan services in Dubai

HKMA chief urges region's fund managers to take heed of mainland's currency expansion

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 January, 2013, 3:55am

Monetary Authority chief executive Norman Chan Tak-lam and top Standard Chartered executives yesterday met more than 150 businesspeople in Dubai to pitch Hong Kong's yuan services.

Although the yuan is not fully convertible, Beijing has since 2009 encouraged the use of the currency for trade settlements and investment services.

In the past two years, the HKMA has been holding similar roadshows in Britain, the United States and Australia to promote Hong Kong as the leading offshore yuan trading centre.

Chan said this would be the first time such a promotion had been attempted in the Middle East.

"Trade activities between the [United Arab Emirates] and China have grown more than 10 times over the past decade, from less than US$3 billion in 2001 to US$37 billion in 2011. China is the UAE's second-largest non-oil-trading partner and the second-largest source of the UAE's imports," he said.

"The greater use of yuan in bilateral transactions will provide further impetus for trade and investment links between China and the Middle East to expand in the times ahead, which will be mutually beneficial."

Chan also said that as China was in the process of encouraging more international usage of the yuan, this would provide fund managers in the Middle East the opportunity to diversify their investment portfolio.

Standard Chartered executives teamed up with the HKMA to arrange the Middle East roadshows. The lender is one of the most active banks in Hong Kong expanding its footprint in the yuan business.

Jonathan Morris, the chief executive of Standard Chartered UAE, said: "In the UAE, Standard Chartered has been at the forefront of supporting the increasing needs of our corporate, SME [small and medium-sized enterprises] and financial-institution clients with links to China. This event comes at an ideal time, when the yuan is increasingly becoming an international trade and reserve currency."

Morris said that over the past few years, Standard Chartered had witnessed a significant increase in demand for yuan services in the UAE, and the bank expected demand would continue to grow in future.

Meanwhile, HSBC said it expected dim sum bond issues and certificates of deposit to reach up to 360 billion yuan (HK$448.4 billion) by the end of this year despite a slowdown in the growth of yuan-denominated bond issues.

The bank also said it expected the yuan to appreciate 1 per cent by the end of the year. Chief executive Anita Fung Yuen-mei said the slowdown in appreciation was normal as the conversion rates of yuan and other currencies had more or less reached a state of "structural equilibrium".

Fung said that with further loosening of the yuan's convertibility and greater demand worldwide, the yuan would soon replace sterling as the third-most popular currency for global trade settlement.

The bank expects a third of the mainland's merchandise trade to be settled in yuan by 2015, compared with 10 per cent now.

The HKMA said yesterday the city's yuan deposits stood at 700 billion yuan at the end of last month, up 5 per cent from a year earlier and 10 times the figure in 2009.