Why should the RMB be included in the SDR basket?

By Yi Xianrong
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, June 26, 2015
Adjust font size:

The international community has been paying much attention to the possible inclusion of the renminbi, or the yuan, in the Special Drawing Rights basket of reserve currencies by the International Monetary Fund. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said during her recent visit to China that progress in the renminbi internationalization in the past few years has basically brought the yuan to the criterion of a freely usable currency, and the inclusion of the yuan in the SDR basket is not “a question of if” but “a question of when”. On May 29, the G7 leaders reached a consensus that the yuan should be part of the IMF’s basket of reference currencies, but technical reviews should be completed first.

During the IMF technical reviews, the renminbi will have to meet two conditions before it could be included. The first: whether or not the value of the exports of goods and services in the five years prior to the reviews is one of the biggest in the world. The SDR basket of currencies now includes the dollar, euro, pound sterling and yen; this means that China’s export value of goods and services should be higher at least than that of Britain or Japan.

China’s foreign trade amounted to 25.42 trillion yuan (US$4.17 trillion) in 2012, ranking second in the world; in 2013, total foreign trade was valued at 25.83 trillion yuan, overtaking the United States to become the biggest in the world; and in 2014, China’s foreign trade value increased further to 26.43 trillion yuan, still ranking the largest in the world. The five-year average value of China’s foreign trade always ranks among the top. That is to say, China can now basically satisfy this criterion of the IMF for the technical reviews.

The second important condition is that the renminbi must meet the criterion of a freely usable currency under IMF Article XXX(f), that is, widely used to make payments for international transactions and widely traded in the principal foreign exchange markets. This criterion could be divided into four specific indicators: The weight in the composition of the official IMF foreign exchange reserve currencies; the Bank for International Settlements statistics on international banking liabilities and cross-border deposits; the BIS statistics on global bond markets; and the BIS statistics on global foreign exchange market transactions. During the 2010 technical reviews, the renminbi failed to be accepted due to its weakness in the first and fourth criteria.

At present, the renminbi has shown its strength in cross-border deposits and foreign exchange market transactions. At the end of 2014, the amount of offshore renminbi deposits stood at about 2.8 trillion yuan, next only to the four SDR reserve currencies. Also at the end of 2014, the renminbi fared very well in the foreign exchange market transactions, ranking sixth among all currencies.

But the renminbi still shows its weakness in terms of the holdings as foreign exchange reserves and the size in the international bond markets. According to statistics on the Canadian dollar and Australian dollar conducted separately by the IMF effective from 2013 under the first criterion, the proportion in the official foreign exchange reserves among the global currencies was about 1.5%, respectively. Judging from this level, the proportion of the renminbi holdings by central banks around the world as their foreign exchange reserves is probably lower than that ratio. But consideringthat more than 40 central banks or monetary authorities around the world have included or plan to include the renminbi as a currency of their foreign exchange reserves, and that they can buy renminbi assets through such channels as the offshore market, it is estimated that the ratio of the renminbi is approaching the 1.5% level. As for the fourth criterion, the balance of the offshore renminbi bond markets at the end of 2014 was about 480 billion yuan, accounting for 0.4% of the international bond markets, and this proportion was still fairly low.

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
1   2   Next  

Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter