UPDATE 1-Canadian export agency signs deal to promote yuan use

Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:10pm EDT
 
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(Adds background, quotes from Oliver, changes dateline/previous OTTAWA )

TORONTO, March 23 (Reuters) - Canada's export agency signed a deal with China's biggest bank on Monday to promote the use of the yuan as a settlement currency in trade-related transactions, as officials in Toronto launched the first yuan trading hub in the Americas.

Export Development Canada (EDC) signed the memorandum of understanding with the Canadian subsidiary of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd, the hub's clearing bank.

The two institutions will be "looking at ways to make the transactional aspect of Canadian and Chinese trade a little less cumbersome," EDC Senior Vice President Mairead Lavery said in a statement.

The trading hub and clearing center launched on Monday in Toronto.

Canadian banks currently have to convert from Canadian dollars into U.S. dollars before settling trade payments in yuan. The trading hub will eliminate costs to clients by enabling settlements to be made directly in yuan.

Still, offshore clearing may become less important down the line. Sources told Reuters earlier in the month that China's international payment system to process cross-border yuan transactions is ready and may be launched as early as September or October.

The launch of the China International Payment System (CIPS)would enable companies outside China to clear yuan transactions with their Chinese counterparts directly, reducing the number of stages a payment has to go through.

Nonetheless, Canada's Finance Minister Joe Oliver said the Toronto hub is good for the country's bilateral commercial relationship with China, as well as Canada's financial sector.   Continued...