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Expanding Renminbi Business

32.   Expanding RMB business is one of my major development objectives. Hong Kong is the first place outside the Mainland that can offer RMB business services.  As at the end of 2005, 38 banks in Hong Kong were providing RMB deposit-taking, exchange and remittance services. Total RMB deposits in Hong Kong had reached RMB22.6 billion, and the cumulative value of spending and cash withdrawals using RMB debit and credit cards in Hong Kong amounted to $9.4 billion.

33.   In my last Budget, I proposed three strategic directions for the further development of RMB business in Hong Kong.  In 2005, we made progress in the diversification of RMB assets and liabilities.  Hong Kong residents will soon be allowed to open RMB current accounts in a Hong Kong bank.  RMB deposit-taking services have been extended to non-individuals. Moreover, to facilitate the further development of our RMB business and ensure the safe and efficient settlement of transactions, the Clearing Bank for RMB business will shortly launch a new settlement system being developed by Hong Kong Interbank Clearing Limited.

34.   Obviously, I hope that RMB business can develop more rapidly, and I fully appreciate the calls of the industry for further expansion. We need, however, to synchronise in tandem with the pace of financial reform on the Mainland and move forward gradually. As to the next stage of development, we are in discussion with the Central Government regarding the other two strategic directions, namely the proposals to allow cross-boundary trade to settle in RMB and to establish a RMB debt issuance mechanism in Hong Kong.  These two types of business, if introduced, will greatly promote trade between the two places and the development of our bond market. They are vitally important in reinforcing our position as an international financial centre, and will at the same time provide a testing ground for the move towards full RMB convertibility.

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2005 © | Important notices Last revision date : 22 February, 2006