THE Guangdong United Futures Exchange (GUFE) is considering extending the operations of its clearing company to provide a nation-wide service. Under consideration is a plan for it to become a clearing centre for the remaining 11 futures exchanges in China. The GUFE was the only futures exchange on the mainland which has its own clearing company, as others only had a clearing department, said Mr Chen Zufang, an official of the Trading and Delivery Department of GUFE. Meanwhile, GUFE is considering whether to make the clearing company an independent company. As an administrative measure to standardise the futures market, the State Council in mid-year ordered a reduction in the number of futures exchanges. As a result, the more than 40 mainland centres were reduced to 11, with some of them combining and the rest becoming wholesale trading markets. Three of the designated futures exchange centres are in Shanghai, and the rest are in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hainan, Beijing, Liaoning, Souzhou, Sichuan and Zhengzhou. There are now more than 60 futures brokers registered with the Commercial and Industrial Bureau in Guangdong, about one-third of the total number in the whole country. Guangdong had the largest number of futures brokers on the mainland. Mr Chen said there were still too many futures exchanges and the intention was to further minimise the number through annexation after a time of competition. Those remaining would probably become the national markets. 'It is very possible to have one national clearing house for all futures exchange centres and it would benefit development. The clearing company of GUFE is very qualified to serve this purpose,' said Mr Chen. However, there was still the conflict of local interests as authorities would be deprived of the deposits they now had from their own futures markets. Mr Chen said the GUFE was well prepared to open a foreign futures exchange, but it was not likely to begin in the near future because of objections from the north. 'Guangdong has good reason to be a pilot city to open foreign exchange futures, as the demand from foreign enterprises is large. But it is not possible for the time being,' he said.