Swiss seek offshore yuan trading role
Switzerland wants to become an offshore yuan trading centre in Europe, competing with Frankfurt and London to corner trade in China's currency.
The country's economy minister, Johann Schneider-Ammann, said in Beijing on Saturday after signing a free-trade agreement with Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng: "The Swiss side, the Swiss financial system, in particular the Swiss National Bank, we are interested in getting the chance to negotiate with the Chinese about a renminbi hub in the centre of Europe, in Switzerland."
While no official talks have taken place, Schneider-Ammann said he hoped the idea would become "more serious" in the coming weeks or months.
London, the centre of the world's US$4 trillion-a-day market for foreign exchange trading, claims to have the edge in Europe after the Bank of England signed a three-year currency swap line with the People's Bank of China last month.
A group representing Frankfurt's financial industry predicted last week that the European Central Bank would get a swap deal that would allow it to exchange euros for as much as 800 billion yuan (HK$1.01 trillion) - four times the size of the Bank of England agreement.
To have a trading hub, a central bank must have an agreement with the PBOC to swap its currency for yuan.
This gives a central bank access to yuan funds to back up firms doing business with Chinese partners.