Five Years Anniversary Since Renminbi was Included in the SDR Basket: Results and Prospects

54
DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-6-59-70
A. Polivach (apolivach@imemo.ru),
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow, 117997, Russian Federation

Received 29.01.2021.

Abstract. The renminbi was included in the SDR basket from October 2016. In that time there were a lot of doubts about whether the renminbi was enough freely used currency to comply with the criteria of such inclusion. Other opinions focused on possibility that this inclusion would boost international usage of the renminbi. The author analyses statistics and comes to conclusion that the maximum boost of the renminbi usage was achieved right before the inclusion. The China’s statistics shows the boost of renminbi usage in the external transactions in 2016–2020, but statistics of its trading partners and SWIFT reveal only moderate growth or even stagnation in this period. One of explanation of this discrepancy may be that despite Chinese banks’ substantially increased external lending in renminbi in recent years, it looks that banks actually do not transfer renminbi abroad to borrowers. Banks just remit these sums to Chinese suppliers under the instructions by foreign borrowers. Then those borrowers repay those renminbi loans most likely in dollars. So China’s statistics record boost of renminbi usage, but its trading partners do not see those renminbi. The key obstacle for widening international usage of renminbi is remaining restrictions (formal and informal) for transactions under the financial account of China’s balance of payments. The author considers prospects of increasing the international role of the renminbi and comes to conclusion that it is likely that China is afraid of liberalisation of its financial accounts because there is a risk of long-term depreciation of the renminbi. Contrary to widely popular belief that China stands for and practiced with undervalued exchange rate of the renminbi the author statistically shows that in the past 25 years the renminbi was stronger than the G7’s currencies and substantially stronger than the currencies of China’s neighbour competitors. It looks that devaluation-averse sentiments hinder China’s decision makers from introduction of real liberalisation of its financial account, because free transborder movements of capital may create sharp depreciating impact on the renminbi and thus undermine Chinese economic achievements of last decades. That’s why it is unlikely that the renminbi will substantially increase its international role in the foreseeable future.

Keywords: internationalisation of renminbi, official currency reserves, global payment currency, transborder movements of capital


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For citation:
Polivach A. Five Years Anniversary Since Renminbi was Included in the SDR Basket: Results and Prospects. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 6, pp. 59-70. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-6-59-70



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