A SENIOR mainland bank official is joining the chorus of doubters over China's ability to introduce convertibility of its yuan currency next year. Li Chuzhang, general manager of the Agricultural Bank of China's Hong Kong branch, said yesterday China did not have the prerequisites for the move next year. He said it was inevitable that the yuan would become fully convertible eventually. 'When this can be implemented depends on the mainland and international environment,' he said. Mr Li said the question of full convertibility was irrelevant. If the market was opened, it would be opened altogether, he said. Vice-premier Zhu Rongji earlier announced that China could allow the yuan to be fully convertible on the current account as early as next year, well ahead of the previous 2000 deadline. Current account convertibility means that the yuan could be used to buy foreign exchange for the import of goods and services. Yuan could be bought or sold freely worldwide only if it was allowed full convertibility, also known as capital account convertibility. He was speaking after the signing of an agreement with a syndicate of 16 financial institutions for the completion of the bank's first Hong Kong dollar certificates of deposit issue. The issue follows its upgrade to branch status in October. The floating rate certificate of deposit was oversubscribed. The issue size was raised to $600 million from $500 million, due to the enthusiastic response. The issue has a five-year maturity with call and put options at the end of the third year with a denomination of $1 million. It bears interest of 50 basis points over the three-month Hong Kong interbank offered rate. Mr Li said the proceeds would mainly be used in the territory. This was the second time the state-owned Chinese specialised bank had raised funds from overseas markets this year. The first was when the bank sold 15 billion yen (about HK$1.15 billion) worth of five-year Samurai bonds. The bank did not raise any funds from the world market last year. Mr Li said the bank's Hong Kong branch wholesale banking business would concentrate on large-scale and syndicated loans. The bank was considering the introduction of yuan deposit accounts in the territory.