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Internationalisation of the Renminbi: Developments in Offshore Business

Global Economics and Governance

The renminbi (RMB) – the official currency of China – is poised to join the US dollar and the euro as one of the world’s top three global trading currencies. China is now the world’s second largest economy, its largest exporter and the single greatest destination for global direct investment.

The Chinese government is actively seeking to internationalise the renminbi to match China’s global economic status. The Chinese government policy is to promote international use of the renminbi in three stages through trade, investment and as a reserve currency. This represents new opportunities for companies, financial institutions and personal investors. As the renminbi is not yet fully convertible, the Chinese government has promoted an ‘offshore’ market where renminbi can be used outside the Chinese mainland, separate from the ‘onshore’ market used by domestic companies, Chinese residents and foreign companies with a Chinese presence.

Offshore renminbi markets are developing rapidly in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and London. Offshore borrowing and lending are market-driven and not subject to the regulations that set interest rates on the Chinese mainland. Offshore renminbi is now actively used for cross-border trade, finance and direct investment while rapid and successive waves of liberalisation are opening onshore markets to trade, financing and investment.

Secretary Chan will discuss the Renminbi market and the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect.


  • Professor K C Chan, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Hong Kong
  • Discussant: Sheila Nicoll, Head of Public Policy, Schroders
  • Discussant: Rupert Willis, Desk Officer for China, Directorate General, Economic and Financial Affairs, European Commission
  • Chair: Zsolt Darvas, Senior Fellow, Bruegel

About the speakers

Professor K C Chan is Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury in Hong Kong. Professor Chan was Dean of Business and Management in the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) before he was appointed Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury in July 2007. Prior to joining the HKUST Business School in 1993, Professor Chan had spent nine years teaching at Ohio State University in the United States. Professor Chan received his bachelor's degree in economics from Wesleyan University and his M.B.A. and Ph.D. in finance from the University of Chicago. He specialised in assets pricing, evaluation of trading strategies and market efficiency and has published numerous articles on these topics. Before joining the Government, Professor Chan held a number of public service positions including Chairman of the Consumer Council, Director of the Hong Kong Futures Exchange, and Member of the Commission on Strategic Development, Commission on Poverty, the Exchange Fund Advisory Committee, the Hang Seng Index Advisory Committee, and the Hong Kong Council for Academic Accreditation. He was former President of the Asian Finance Association and President of Association of Asia Pacific Business Schools.

Sheila Nicoll is the Head of Public Policy at Schroders. She joined Schroders in September 2014 although her financial services regulatory career began in 1982.Sheila was a Senior Advisor at EY in 2013/14, focused on the asset management sector having been Director of Conduct Policy at the Financial Services Authority (FSA) between 2009 and 2013, and joined the FSA as Director of Retail Firms Division in 2007. Previously she was Deputy Chief Executive of the Investment Management Association and held several policy roles at the London Stock Exchange. She is a modern Language graduate and holds a non-executive role as the Secretary of the Churches’ Mutual Credit Union.

Rupert Willis is the Desk Officer for China in the Directorate General, Economic and Financial Affairs at the European Commission. He is responsible day to day for DG ECFIN’s assessment of developments in the Chinese economy, as well as preparing forecasts and related materials, and preparations for annual macroeconomic dialogues with China. He has worked in various roles for the British government (1993 – 1997) and (since 1997) for the European Commission, across a range of policy areas (including environmental policy, the EU budget, and (more recently) on macroeconomic issues in DG ECFIN). He is an economist by training, with higher degrees in both Economics and Chinese studies.

Practical details

  • Venue: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
  • Time: Wednesday 3 December 2014, 8:15-10:00 (Breakfast will be served at 8:15 after which the event begins at 8:30)
  • Contact: Matilda Sevón, Events Manager - [email protected]