China will expand the use of the renminbi in countries and regions related to the Belt and Road Initiative by improving cross-border payment and settlement facilities for the currency, a People’s Bank of China official said on June 6.
Yin Yong, deputy governor of the central bank, said at the CIC Forum 2017 in Beijing that there is potential for the Chinese currency to play a greater role in Belt and Road economies. CIC is the China Investment Corp, a sovereign wealth fund that manages part of China’s foreign exchange reserves.
“There are more than 50 Belt and Road economies where the proportion of renminbi usage in cross-border transactions is lower than 5 percent, and there is potential for huge improvement,” Yin said.
The renminbi has been more widely accepted by the countries and regions related to the Belt and Road Initiative after the currency was included in the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights basket, he said. The basket is a set of supplementary foreign exchange reserve assets.
“People in these countries and regions want to use the currency in trade and investment. Some Belt and Road countries and regions are also setting up offshore renminbi financial centers,” Yin said.
“The People’s Bank of China will continue to improve the renminbi cross-border payment framework and make the renminbi play an important role in pricing, settlement, investment, financing and trade,” he added. The currency’s internationalization will be a medium- to long-term process backed by China’s strong economy, he said.
Jiang Yang, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said at the forum that the commission will encourage qualified Belt and Road economies to issue panda bonds－yuan-denominated debt sold by foreign issuers in China.
In March, aluminum producer Rusal became the first Russian company to issue a set of panda bonds worth 1 billion renminbi ($147.14 million).
“We will also steadily expand the two-way opening-up of the capital market,” Jiang said.
CIC also is using the Belt and Road to find deals and take part in infrastructure construction.
Tu Guangshao, president of China Investment Corp, said at the forum that promoting Belt and Road construction provides golden opportunities for cooperation in international industrial capacity and equipment manufacturing.
“Belt and Road construction requires a lot of investment and creates good opportunities for cross-border investment, so CIC will seize the opportunity to expand deal sources in a market-oriented and sustainable way,” Tu said.
Tu said CIC is looking for deals with a “China perspective” that have a link to the Chinese market, given that the nation has a huge market and strong industrial advantages.
Qi Bin, CIC executive vice-president, said China’s huge market of 1.3 billion consumers is an important driving force for the nation’s economic development and is contributing to the whole world.
Qi added that it is a trend for Chinese companies including CIC to seek opportunities related to the Belt and Road Initiative when considering cross-border investments.