BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2017/28

Fresh IMF figures show that the value of yuan-denominated currency reserves globally at the end of March was 83 billion dollars. This is slightly more than in December 2016, when the IMF first published information on the yuan as a reserve currency. At that time, yuan assets worth of 79 billion dollars was reported by COFER respondents that separately account RMB holdings. The yuan’s share of allocated foreign currency reserves fell slightly, however, to 0.93 %. When also other than currency reserves are included, the yuan’s share of official reserve assets rose slightly from the December figure to 0.76 %.

The European Central Bank said last month that it had made the yuan a reserve currency in the first half of this year. The value of the ECB’s yuan investments is only 500 million euros, or 1 % of the value of its foreign currency reserves, making the yuan addition a largely symbolic gesture.

SWIFT, the global association for secure interbank financial transfers, notes that yuan payments accounted for 1.6 % of international transfers in May, or about the same share as the Swiss franc. In late 2015, the yuan was used in 2.3 % of international payments. In the first six months of this year, less than 13 % of China’s foreign trade was conducted in yuan, down from 19 % in 1H16 and 26 % in all of 2015.