International Monetary Fund (IMF)

China, 14 Currency Swap Agreements and Counting

Renmimbi Yuan

Since the financial crisis of 2008 China has been signing agreement after agreement with other sovereign nations for bilateral currency swaps. China and these other nations are trying to diversify their central bank foreign - exchange reserves out of U.S. Dollars. China would like its currency, the Renmimbi, to play more of an important role in the world financial system. Here is a list of the fourteen nations that have already signed bilateral currency swap agreements with China.

  • Pakistan
  • Argentina
  • South Korea
  • Indonesia
  • New Zealand
  • Malaysia
  • Belarus
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Singapore
  • Kazakhstan

After the collapse in 2008 Chinese exporters were finding it difficult to do international trade as they were unable to settle their deals with Yuan (Renmimbi) and were forced to settle in Dollars. The currency swap agreements will make it easier for now for international companies and traders to receive financing in Yuan during difficult economic periods. If they can settle their deals in Yuan (Renmimbi) it would reduce their risk. China and these nations would like to keep trade flowing even in the event of another financial crisis.

What is a Currency Swap? Essentially a currency swap is a transaction between two nations to exchange the interest and principal payments on loans issued by two different nations. The two countries gain access to foreign exchange reserves. This limits the nations exposure to exchange rate fluctuations because they can pay back the liability associated with its currency instead of in Dollars.

Why is China so concerned about the U.S. Dollar? China has grown suspicious of the US government unwillingness to curb its spending and printing of its currency. This runaway printing has and will continue to devalue it dollar-denominated assets. Recently we are hearing that the US Federal Reserve will quietly implement QE3 (Quantitative Easing 3).

China would like the world to look upon its currency as a store of value similar to Gold and the Dollar. This privilege has given the US the ability to expand and borrow. China would also like this ability. If nations hold reserves in Yuan (Renmimbi) it is extending credit to the Chinese government. These currency swaps are the first steps in Yuan (Renmimbi) transforming in to a global currency. How many more countries will sign agreements with China in 2012? How will the USA and the IMF react? I look forward to seeing the results of China spreading its influence.

Randy Hilarski - The Rare Metals Rare Earth and Rare Industrial Metals Specialist

China, Japan, South Korea, ASEAN Agree on Wider Currency Swap Arrangements

Republic of China

ISTANBUL, May 4 (AFP) - Finance ministers from China, Japan, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed Wednesday to expand their system of bilateral currency swaps under the Chiang Mai Initiative to a more multilateral system. The ministers, meeting as the “ASEAN-plus-3″ on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) annual meeting in Istanbul, said this would make the Chiang Mai Initiative a “more effective and disciplined framework.” Under the currency swaps, an Asian country hit by a foreign exchange crisis like the one in 1997 could borrow borrow foreign currency — usually US dollars — from another country to bolster its reserves until the crisis had passed. An ADB analyst remarked that Wednesday’s accord was a step towards setting up an “Asian Monetary Fund,” although such an institution might never actually be created.

In a joint press conference, the 1O ASEAN and three East Asian financial ministers also called for a review of the quota of Asian countries in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) “to properly reflect the current realities and their relative positions in the world economy.” The 13 ministers said an economic surveillance system would be put into place along with the Chiang Mai Initiative framework, to detect irregularities early and apply swift remedies. They also said a collective decision-making mechanism would oversee the current system of bilateral swap arrangements “as a first step towards multilateralization.”

This would make it easier to activate the bilateral swap arrangements in case of an emergency, the ministers said in a joint statement read after their three-hour meeting. Crisis-hit countries would also be able to draw down as much as 20 percent of the money under the bilateral swap arrangements without having to go through the IMF. Under the current arrangements, countries that draw more than 10 percent under their swap arrangements must have an IMF-supported program in place. The decisions of the ASEAN-plus-3 group apparently followed recommendations made during a meeting of the Chinese, Japanese and South Korean ministers a day earlier. Previously, the initiative launched in Chiang Mai, Thailand, in May 2000 involved only bilateral swaps but the Chinese, Japanese and South Korean ministers said they would look towards expanding this into multilateral swaps involving three or four countries. Asian countries had earlier proposed the creation of an Asian Monetary Fund after the 1997 fiscal crisis but the United States and the IMF had strongly opposed this. Chinese minister Renqing Jin said his country had already agreed to “double the scale of its currency swap,” from its current level.

However, when asked if they were setting up an Asian Monetary Fund, Japanese minister Sadakazu Tanigaki replied, “only the Chiang Mai Initiative was discussed”. The ministers said the initiative had been very helpful in maintaining the financial stability of Asian countries even if there had been no repeat of the 1997 crisis. Masahiro Kawai, special adviser to the ADB president, who monitored the ASEAN-plus-3 meeting, said the ministers wanted to increase the effectiveness of the Chiang Mai Initiative which now covers 16 bilateral swap arrangements. He called it a “step towards multilateralization,” adding that a “de facto Asian Monetary Fund,” may eventually be created. He said the United States and the IMF had opposed such a fund in the past partly due to fears it would increase the risk of moral hazard. But Kawai said this was why the ministers wanted to increase the surveillance function of the Chiang Mai Initiative. He remarked that in the past, China had not joined the move to create an Asian Monetary Fund and that if it joined with the other Asian countries, they might be more successful. mm/wai