Britain’s bid to become the leading centre for offshore trading in the renminbi is set to receive a boost with the designation of China Construction Bank, the country’s second-largest lender, as a clearing bank in London for the Chinese currency.
The move – filling a gap in the UK’s infrastructure for trading the currency – will embellish London’s credentials as a global centre for foreign exchange trading, as financial capitals around the world vie for a slice of the fast-growing offshore renminbi trade.
The decision is expected to be announced around the time of a trip to London next week by the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
People close to the decision said CCB had been selected as the first UK renminbi clearing bank, despite earlier expectations that it was likely to be local rival Bank of China. “This was a decision taken in Beijing, not in London,” said one. “It’s kind of a matter of sharing things around.” The UK is keen to defend its role as the main offshore renminbi trading centre outside Asia but faces competition from Frankfurt and Luxembourg.
The change will allow investors to cut the risk from making overseas payments in renminbi, and should make trading it more efficient and liquid. It may attract Chinese companies keen to invest in Europe, as well as making it easier for investors to gain access to China’s onshore capital markets.
George Osborne has been courting the Chinese as he attempts to build up the City of London’s renminbi business.
The renminbi’s share of trading in the $5tn a day foreign exchange spot market, although still modest, has climbed steadily in recent years. CCB’s London representative office declined to comment, as did the Bank of England. The People’s Bank of China could not be reached for comment.
熟悉该决定详情的人士表示，中国建设银行已被选定为英国第一家人民币清算银行，此前的预期热门曾是其本国竞争对手中国银行(Bank of China)。“这个决定是北京方面、不是伦敦方面作出的。”一位知情人士表示，“这有点像共享。”英国热衷于捍卫自己作为人民币在亚洲以外主要离岸交易中心的角色，但要面对来自法兰克福和卢森堡的竞争。
现在外汇现货市场日均交易量为5万亿美元，人民币在其中的份额虽然仍不高，但近年来一直在稳步攀升。中国建设银行伦敦代表处及英国央行(Bank of England)拒绝对此作出评论。记者无法联系到中国人民银行(PBoC)置评。