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Crude oil deal in e-CNY marks breakthrough

By Shi Jing in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-21 07:37

The e-CNY is promoted during the 2022 China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing. [Photo by CHEN XIAOGEN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

The process of internationalizing the Chinese currency took another major step forward with the first crude oil transaction settled with the digital renminbi on Thursday.

By buying 1 million barrels of crude oil, PetroChina International Corp Ltd completed the first-ever international crude oil trade to be settled in e-CNY at the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange (SHPGX).

The SHPGX's announcement on Friday, however, did not disclose the exact value of the deal nor the identity of the seller.

The deal is part of the SHPGX's efforts to address the Shanghai municipal government's requirements to use the e-CNY in cross-border trade, the exchange said in an announcement on its website.

Upon expanding its business in the domestic and international markets, the exchange will provide faster, more stable and efficient trading and payment channels for market entities both at home and abroad to meet their wide-ranging needs. International capital will also be thus facilitated to better tap the Chinese market, said the SHPGX.

CITIC Securities' Chief Economist Ming Ming said the e-CNY should be given fully play to advance the RMB's cross-border settlements and the Chinese currency's internationalization.

The e-CNY settlement was made just two days after the yuan-settled liquefied natural gas trade was completed by China National Offshore Oil Corp and France's Engie at the SHPGX on Tuesday.

Under the deal, Engie will supply a cargo of 65,000 metric tons of LNG to CNOOC in November, the exchange said.

This deal follows China's first yuan-based purchase of LNG via the SHPGX, which was between CNOOC and France's TotalEnergies in March.

In September, the RMB had retained its position as the fifth most active currency for global payments by value, with a market share of 3.71 percent — a record, according to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication on Wednesday.

Overall, the value of RMB payments in September increased by 2.77 percent from August, while the value of all other key currency payments decreased by 3.96 percent.

In terms of international payments, excluding payments within the eurozone, the RMB ranked sixth with a share of 2.73 percent in September, up from 2.59 percent in August.

Latest data released by the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, showed that the value of cross-border RMB settlements under the current account totaled 10.16 trillion yuan ($1.39 trillion) in the first three quarters of this year, up 35 percent year-on-year.

While the RMB has seen relatively more volatility this year, its internationalization has been advancing steadily, showing that global businesses are according higher recognition to the Chinese currency, said Wang Youxin, a senior researcher from Bank of China.

This can be largely attributed to the various favorable policies facilitating cross-border RMB settlements introduced in recent times as well as China's stable monetary policy. The wider use of the yuan among emerging economies is another important driver of the RMB's internationalization, said Wang.

In January, the Ministry of Commerce and the PBOC had released a guideline to facilitate the use of cross-border RMB in trade and investment.

The Central Bank of Argentina announced on June 29 it would allow RMB deposits and withdrawals in the Argentine banking system. The Central Bank of Brazil announced in late March that the yuan surpassed the euro to become the country's second-largest international reserve currency.

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