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Unprecedented development ahead for RMB: Bank of China chief economist

By Eric J. Lyman (Xinhua)    09:30, April 18, 2015

The Bank of China's chief economist Cao Yuanzheng feels China's efforts to promote the renminbi (RMB) as an international currency is blazing a new trail in world history.

"I think this is an unprecedented process in economic history," Cao said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on the sidelines of the "RMB: Going Global. The Bank of China RMB Internationalization Forum" here.

RMB development may be unprecedented but carefully mapped out nevertheless. In his remarks during the forum, Cao said the process has its roots back in the 1990s, and the veteran economist said he still believed it would take several more years for the level of international convertibility of the currency Cao sees as key.

"I now think we can speak in terms of years and not decades," Cao said. "I cannot predict the time table, but I think we'll get there before 2020."

He said that when it happens, it will be a positive development not only for China but for the world.

"Yes, there are benefits for China but we believe it is also good for the world," Cao said. "There is deep need for another strong world currency (aside from the dollar and euro, the most used international currencies). For China, I would say there it is more of a challenge than a benefit."

Cao called for reform of the current international monetary and financial order, which dates back to the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference, which divided the world among the lines of developed and developing countries.

Cao noted that that dichotomy is now outdated, as evidenced by the fact that China, with the world's second largest economy, is a developing country. All told, three of the world's 10 largest economies are economies in transition.

"The international governance of the world financial system needs reform," Cao said.

"There are major shortcomings, since it was developed when there was a very big gap between developed and developing countries. Now, about 50 percent of the world's gross domestic product is in the developing world. So it's clear the system needs some reform. And using the RMB as an international currency can be part of this necessary reform," he said.

The "RMB: Going Global" forum was held specifically to promote the use of the RMB as an international currency, for trade, as a reserve currency, and for cross-border payments.

The forum featured multiple high-ranking speakers from the Bank of China, the oldest financial institution in the country.

The topic was of interest both to the Bank of China and in Italy, where government officials are keen to see trade between the two countries continue its rapid growth track.

"Most of the renminbi's international use today is bilateral," Cao said. "But as the renminbi becomes more convertible, if Italy can develop closer ties to China I think it can be a win-win situation for both countries." 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Gao Yinan,Bianji)

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