Canada seeks to become Renminbi (RMB) trading centre for the Americas

Partnership announced to support initiative

TORONTO, Aug. 27, 2014 /CNW/ - The Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA) and AdvantageBC today announced they would work together, with officials from the federal, Ontario and BC governments, and the financial industry, to promote Canada as a trading hub for the Chinese currency, the Renminbi (RMB).

In a joint statement Colin Hansen, President and CEO of AdvantageBC, and Janet Ecker, President and CEO of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, said:

"Canada has many advantages to offer China as a partner in their efforts to encourage the internationalization of the RMB, and as we seek to expand our business and trading relationships with them.  Canada's time zones, its well-developed financial infrastructure, capital markets and risk management expertise, the strong and growing economic relationship between the two countries, and a growing Chinese population in both Toronto and Vancouver provide many reasons for China to consider partnering with Canada and its financial and business community."

"While Canada's financial industry is headquartered in Toronto, much of the country's Canada-China trade passes through Vancouver, making it critical for both jurisdictions to work collaboratively so that Canadian businesses are able to take full advantage of this initiative," the two CEOs agreed. 

Representatives of Canada's business community have already expressed support for the initiative.  "The establishment of Canada as a RMB centre will continue to raise our stature as a global financial centre and will facilitate increased trade and investment with China, thus benefitting the entire Canadian economy," said Perrin Beatty, President & CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.   Support has also been expressed from the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters and the Canada China Business Council.

Work is already well underway to support this initiative.  For example, in 2013, BC issued a government bond denominated in RMB to become the first "dim sum" bond in Canada. It was quickly oversubscribed, largely by Asian investors.  Also last year, Ontario's TFSA established a working group with representation from thirteen national financial companies and three public sector observers (see list below).  The working group is co-chaired by financial executives from BMO Financial Group, HSBC Bank Canada, Bank of China (Canada) and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Canada).

A similar group is being established in British Columbia.  TFSA and AdvantageBC have also established a steering committee to coordinate the work of the two groups.

Key Facts:

  • The Renminbi is currently the second-most used currency in global trade finance and is growing faster than any other currency in the world.
  • Following the establishment of Hong Kong as the first RMB settlement centre in 2009, a small number of other centres have been authorized including Singapore, London, Frankfurt, and Luxembourg.  None have yet been identified for the Americas.
  • Trade between Canada and China has increased to $73 billion in 2013, an increase of 60% from 2009.
  • Almost 1.5 million Canadians identify themselves as having Chinese ethnic origin.
  • Members of TFSA RMB Working Group:
    • Bank of Canada*
    • Bank of China (Canada)**
    • BMO Financial Group**
    • China Construction Bank
    • CIBC
    • Finance Canada*
    • HSBC Bank Canada**
    • Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Canada)**
    • Manulife Financial
    • National Bank of Canada
    • Ontario Financing Authority*
    • RBC
    • Scotiabank
    • Sun Life Financial
    • TD Bank Group
    • TMX Group

*observer
**co-chairs

Quotes from Co-chairs of TFSA RMB Working Group:

"Establishing the first offshore renminbi hub in North America for clearing and settling payments would represent a significant step in strengthening Canada's economic relationship with China and make Canadian companies more competitive. Canadian companies would benefit from reductions in costs associated with foreign exchange trading and currency hedging, and Canada would become even more attractive for international investors drawn to a diverse portfolio of trade and investor solutions offered in a stable, trusted, environment," said C.J. Gavsie, Managing Director, Global Head of Foreign Exchange Products & China Capital Markets, BMO Financial Group.

"In 2013, 18% of China's total global trade was settled in RMB compared with just 2% in 2010, and we expect the RMB to account for 30% of total China trade settlement by the end of next year," said Jason Henderson, Executive Vice President and Managing Director, Head of Global Banking and Markets, HSBC Bank Canada. "Further, in a recent survey we did of Canadian businesses, 74% said they plan to increase their trade with China. Becoming an integral part of the RMB offshore market will help to accelerate Canada's increasingly close relationship with China for the benefit of individual businesses in all parts of the country and the economy as a whole."

"Canada has long been renowned for having a sound and safe regulated financial system, which provides it with a significant advantage in establishing an offshore RMB center. The professionalism, scope and depth of the foreign exchange, capital and derivative markets; time zone connecting Asia-Pacific, Europe and America; robust legal environment; massive institutional investor base; and the booming trade between China and Canada all contribute to a brighter prospect of building a North American offshore RMB center in Canada. Developing an offshore RMB center requires both China and Canada to make their best effort to move forward.  We are pleased to see that there will be joint efforts by the financial industry, business community and governments on this initiative," said Lijun Wang, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bank of China (Canada).

"The establishment of an offshore RMB center and the accompanying process will be one of the milestones in Canadian financial markets over the upcoming years, bringing new energy and elements to the country. With strong, ongoing interest from both government and businesses alike, Canada is well on its way in becoming a major RMB center in North America.  The rapid development of a center enhances an even stronger partnership between Canada and China. We want to embrace this opportunity and work together with the public and private sector to encourage job opportunities and financial activities to flourish," said William Zhu, President and CEO of Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (Canada).

About the TFSA:

The Toronto Financial Services Alliance is a public/private initiative whose mandate is to enhance and promote the long-term competitiveness of Toronto as a top ten global financial services centre. Its membership encompasses core financial services companies – banks, brokerages, investment fund managers, insurance companies – as well as partner sectors – accounting, law and education. The TFSA was created in 2001 by the financial services industry, in partnership with the City of Toronto. With the federal and provincial governments now joining the partnership, TFSA has created the Global Risk Institute in Financial Services to leverage the sector's reputation in risk management and the Centre of Excellence in Financial Services Education to capitalize on the region's talent advantage. For more information, please check our website at www.tfsa.ca.

About AdvantageBC:

AdvantageBC International Business Centre-Vancouver (formerly known as International Financial Centre British Columbia) is a non-profit organization solely funded and governed by its 148 members conducting or supporting international business activities in BC. AdvantageBC was established in 1986 to attract international business to British Columbia by promoting the tax incentives available through the Province's International Business Activity program as well as the many other advantages BC offers companies engaged in international business.

SOURCE Toronto Financial Services Alliance

For further information: Marta Andradzka, mandradzka@tfsa.ca; Talia Beckett, tbeckett@advantagebc.ca