UK small businesses are embracing the renminbi faster than their US peers

British SMEs use Chinese currency to settle 17% of trade

Small businesses in the UK are embracing renminbi to settle cross-border trade faster than other countries in Europe and North America, new research claims.

The latest HSBC renminbi internationalisation survey, which investigates businesses’ experience of – and attitudes towards – the Chinese currency in 14 major markets, revealed that renminbi was used to settle 17% of trade by UK small companies that do business on the Chinese mainland. The comparable figure for Germany was 4%, climbing to 12% for the US.

Meanwhile, more than a quarter of UK businesses (26%) are planning to start using the renminbi, as are 25% of German businesses. This contrasts with just 11% of French companies.

Around 29% of UK businesses believe that the renminbi will become a fully internationally traded currency like the dollar or the euro in the next five years. This compares with 23% of French businesses, 15% of German firms and 14% of US firms.

For its 2015 survey, HSBC polled more than 1,600 decision-makers from Australia, Brazil, Canada, mainland China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the UAE, the UK and the US who represent companies that conduct international business with or from China.

Mark Emmerson, HSBC’s UK head of global trade and receivables finance, said: “UK companies are recognising the benefits of renminbi and taking advantage.

“It’s particularly encouraging to see that our small businesses are leading their peers when it comes to settling in renminbi with their export and import partners. These companies aren’t just talking about renminbi; they are buying and selling goods and services in the Chinese currency.”

Depreciation of the renminbi in 2014 has helped to increase the use of the currency to settle international trade. In December 2014, the currency became the fifth most used in global payments, according to SWIFT data.

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