RQFII program expanded to France
Last Updated: 2014-06-21 10:37 | China Daily
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China has officially granted 80 billion yuan ($12.9 billion) quota of investment to France under the Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor program, a spokesman for the China Securities Regulatory Commission said on Friday.

The expansion is based upon the joint declaration between China and France signed in March. France is the second European country to gain RQFII quota after the United Kingdom.

RQFII, launched in 2011, allows foreign investors to invest offshore yuan in Chinese stocks, bonds and money-market products. Currently investors in Hong Kong, London, Singapore and France can apply for the program.

As of now Hong Kong, London, Singapore and France are covered by the RQFII. Hong Kong holds the largest RQFII quota of 270 billion yuan, while London and Singapore have quotas of 80 billion yuan and 50 billion yuan respectively.

Till date, the RQFII quota covers 480 billion yuan. As of the end of May, 78 overseas financial institutes have obtained the approval of RQFII for value amounting to 240 billion yuan.

Zhang Xiaojun, spokesman for CSRC, said that the pilot programs of RQFII have been running smoothly, contributing significantly to the growth of the offshore yuan market and boosting the opening up of Chinese domestic capital market to the rest of the world.

"The RQFII quota assigned to France will be conducive to the internationalization of renminbi and the expansion of the investment channels of yuan funds raised in France," said Guo Tianyong, a professor of finance at Central University of Finance and Economics.

"It will also help broaden the channels for yuan in the offshore market to flow back to the mainland," he said, "therefore encouraging them to hold the currency, which will in turn promote the circulation of the currency around the world."

The announcement is among a series of measures by China to achieve its long-term goal to increase the attractiveness of the yuan as an international currency. On Tuesday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, during a visit to the UK, said that the London branch of China Construction Bank has been designated as a yuan clearing bank.

CCB London, offering convenient and secured renminbi offshore clearing services, aims to expand an active and ordered yuan pricing mechanism for commodities, said a statement released after the announcement.

The stocks held by qualified foreign institutional investors in the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges accounted for less than 2 percent of the total stocks, which is much lower than the percentage in developed countries, said Lu Songbin, a researcher at the CSRC, in his analysis of China's latest financial reform measures.

"The commission will take measures to increase the scope of qualified foreign and domestic institutional investors," he said, "The commission will also consider formulating regulations for individual foreign investors to buy shares in China and will run pilot programs in this regard."

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