Thursday, May 30, 2019

China expanding internationalization of their RMB currency as Portugal becomes first Eurozone nation to sell Yuan denominated bonds

While China is in the process of expanding their currency through one side of the equation, that of bi-lateral trade, financial systems elsewhere are also helping them along by issuing Yuan denominated bonds on their exchanges.  And in a first for the Eurozone, Portugal on May 29 officially kicked off Chinese debt issuance through their selling of RMB denominated bonds.

Portugal has become the first euro-area country to tap the Chinese bond market. Lisbon announced last week its intention to sell 2 billion yuan ($289 million) worth of bonds with a maturity of three years. 
The sale of the so-called ‘Panda’ bonds or yuan-denominated debt issued by a non-Chinese entity took place Wednesday and Thursday. 
Portugal’s Finance Minister Mario Centeno told CNBC that the issuance is a “positive step in managing Portugal’s external debt in the medium term.” He said the sale will allow Portugal to expand its investor base. 
Placing ‘Panda’ bonds is an opportunity that Lisbon could not miss, according to the head of Portugal's debt agency IGCP, Cristina Casalinho. She said earlier: “Today we crucially depend on the investor base we have and what we know is that investors that, for example, buy German debt do not invest in higher risk debt.” 
She went on, saying that “It is important especially if we take a long-term perspective… China has been diagnosed as one of the countries with the highest savings in the world, and that it could be... a big operator or a big intervener in financial markets.”
To be a major player in the global currency game one must be able to sell bonds denominated in one's own currency in order to allow nations to hold it as a reserve in their banking systems.  And while China has over the past decade expanded global use of the RMB from around 9% in 2012 to over 14% here at the end of the decade, they still have a long ways to go to be considered on par with the dollar, euro, yen, and pound.

Mutual use of the RMB by a growing number of nations through bi-lateral trade has helped China to establish itself as a viable player in the currency game as even OPEC countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia are now accepted the Yuan in lieu of dollars.  And as the world rushes headlong into de-dollarization through their fears of potential sanctions and other U.S. aggressions, this policy shift has opened the door for China to expand their influence, even in the realm of RMB internationalization.


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