Offshore investors will be able to trade select contracts in China's onshore commodity futures markets with foreign currency or yuan from today, marking another milestone in the deregulation of the nation's capital markets and the globalisation of the currency. The first onshore futures contract to be tradeable by foreign investors would be crude oil futures, according to the foreign exchange regulator, the State Administration of For- eign Exchange (SAFE), in a statement on its website yester- day. The statement came after the China Securities Regulatory Commission in January in a consultation paper said Beijing would allow foreign investors to trade some commodities futures for the first time. In addition, Beijing said last month that it plans to launch a yuan-denominated gold fix by the end of the year through the Shanghai Gold Exchange. Foreign investors, including direct individual investors, brokerage firms and futures com- panies, will be required to set up a special trading account at designated banks based in China before they can start trading on the futures exchange, according to yesterday's statement. The SAFE did not provide details about the definition of designated banks, but it said funds transferred to the special accounts will not be included when measuring short-term foreign debt at banks. The commodities futures exchanges are required to report data about all trades, such as capital account opening, settlement as well as physical delivery of the contracts, to the SAFE on a monthly basis, it said. The type of products to be available will be decided and announced by the CSRC, while the SAFE will oversee account opening, capital settlement and transfer of foreign investors in futures trading, according to the statement. The country's futures market is dominated by retail investors, like the stock market, thanks to limited participation of institutional investors. Foreign companies have very limited channels to invest in China's commodities markets. Companies are only allowed to trade through brokers after setting up a locally registered non-financial unit, which in turn requires a huge registered capital.