Briefing Paper

Project: International Economics Department, Renminbi

Author: 

Paola Subacchi and Helena Huang

  • China's attempts to internationalize the renminbi (RMB) have significant implications for the international monetary system and for economies across the world. 
     
  • China's RMB strategy is based on two tracks: the use of the RMB in cross-border trade settlement and the creation of an RMB offshore market. 
     
  • A series of policy measures has been introduced since 2009 to facilitate the expansion of the nascent RMB offshore market and to overcome the constraints of the currency’s limited convertibility. 
     
  • Development of the offshore market depends on the supply of liquidity provided by Beijing. At present this market is limited in both size and scope, and funds flow from and to the Mainland mainly through the intermediation of Hong Kong.
     
  • Hong Kong benefits from being the first mover and from being part of China, but with a separate legal and institutional system. For the time being it will continue to be the main conduit to the onshore market. 
     
  • Offshore centres such as Hong Kong and offshore hubs such as London and Singapore are both complementary and essential to China’s RMB strategy. They are the connecting dots in the expanding RMB offshore market.

Listen:

Paola Subacchi discusses the paper on BBC Radio 4 TodayChina currency reform a 'gradual process', September 2012