Autumn was a sweet season for the offshore progress of the renminbi. One-third (31%) of major German corporations polled in a November survey by Deutsche Bank are trading in renminbi with cross-border customers and suppliers, while another 17% said they intended to do so in 2015. Lothar Meenen, Deutsche Bank’s head of trade finance and cash management, corporates, notes that when Chinese companies import upstream products from the eurozone or the US, they prefer to pay in renminbi. For other goods, particularly in markets where their suppliers bill in US dollars, they still prefer to be paid in US dollars or euros.
Standard Chartered, in an October survey of senior managers from 90 companies in Asia, Europe and the US, found that 39% had increased transactions in CNH (renminbi traded offshore). Some 83% of the respondents were using at least one of six product areas identified by Standard Chartered: deposits, trade settlement, foreign exchange, loans, bonds and portfolio investment.
Southeast Asian and US companies were laggards, compared with European and East Asian firms, the survey found, but they also had the strongest responses when asked whether they intended to increase CNH transactions.
Standard Chartered and China Merchants Bank are giving the US laggards a chance to make good on that intention. The banks announced in November the launch of a renminbi-denominated certificate of deposit at China Merchants’ New York branch. The issuance offers US-based institutional investors and companies a new vehicle for investing in renminbi assets. Previously, their participation was confined to investing in offshore renminbi bonds or discount notes registered with the Securities Exchange Commission or issued by supranationals like the International Finance Corp.
“I am confident that more corporates will begin integrating the renminbi into their operations—such as for trade settlement—to deliver greater shareholder value,” says Caroline Owen, regional head of renminbi solutions, Americas, Standard Chartered. She predicted that “as strategic use of renminbi expands in the US, New York’s status as a leading financial hub will also grow.”