Russian companies are preparing to switch contracts to renminbi and other Asian currencies amid fears that western sanctions may freeze them out of the US dollar market, according to two top bankers.
“Over the last few weeks there has been a significant interest in the market from large Russian corporations to start using various products in renminbi and other Asian currencies and to set up accounts in Asian locations,” said Pavel Teplukhin, head of Deutsche Bank in Russia.
Andrei Kostin, chief executive of state bank VTB, said expanding the use of non-dollar currencies was one of the bank’s “main tasks”. He has told Russian president Vladimir Putin that developing the use of settlements in roubles and renminbi was “a priority” they have been working on since May.
The move to open accounts to trade in renminbi, Hong Kong dollars or Singapore dollars highlights Russia’s attempt to pivot towards Asia as its relations with Europe become strained. Sanctions are pushing Russian companies to reduce their dependence on western financial markets while US and European banks have dramatically slowed their lending activity in Russia since the annexation of Crimea in March.
Russia’s central bank is also working to create a payments system to reduce the country’s dependence on western groups such as Visa and MasterCard.
“There is nothing wrong with Russia trying to reduce its dependency on the dollar, actually it is an entirely reasonable thing to do,” said the Russia head of another big European bank. He added that Russia’s large exposure to the dollar subjected it to more market volatility in times of crisis. “There is no reason why you have to settle trade you do with Japan in dollars,” he said.
The chief executive of a Russian manufacturer that derives 70 per cent of its revenues from export in US dollars said his company had done the groundwork to move its contract settlements in the event of further sanctions. “If something happens, we are ready to switch to other currencies,” he said.
Alexander Dyukov, chief executive of Gazprom’s oil unit, has said that it has discussed with its customers the possibility of shifting contracts out of dollars, while Norilsk Nickel told the FT that it was discussing denominating long-term contracts with Chinese consumers in renminbi.
德意志银行(Deutsche Bank)俄罗斯负责人帕维尔?特普卢欣(Pavel Teplukhin)说：“过去几周俄罗斯大型公司对这一市场表现出浓厚兴趣，它们开始使用各种人民币及其他亚洲货币的产品，并在亚洲地区开设账户。”
国有的俄罗斯外贸银行(VTB)首席执行官安德烈?科斯京(Andrei Kostin)表示，扩大使用美元以外货币是该银行的“主要任务”之一。他告诉俄罗斯总统弗拉基米尔?普京(Vladimir Putin)，发展使用卢布和人民币结算，是他们自5月以来的“重点”工作。
俄罗斯天然气工业公司(Gazprom)石油部门首席执行官亚历山大?久科夫(Alexander Dyukov)表示，已与客户讨论过改用美元以外货币结算合同的可能性，而诺里尔斯克镍业(Norilsk Nickel)告诉英国《金融时报》，正与中国客户讨论用人民币订立长期合同的事宜。