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Will the Renminbi Emerge as an International Reserve Currency?


  • The author is grateful to Dong He, Sabyasachi Mitra, Donghyun Park, Lei Lei Song, Akiko Terada-Hagiwara, and Shang Jin Wei for helpful comments and suggestions, and Ruth Francisco, Hanol Lee and Lea Sumulong for able research assistance.


The global reserve system can be strengthened by increasing the role of alternative currencies. A gradual evolution to a multicurrency system reduces pressure on a single reserve currency issuer from an ever-growing balance-of-payments deficit. It also allows countries to better diversify their foreign exchange holdings. Given the continuing strong economic growth in the China and its growing influence on the world economy, the renminbi will likely emerge as a new international currency. However, this is contingent on the China accepting a more convertible capital account and developing an efficient financial system. Internationalising the renminbi will likely be a gradual and drawn-out process. Simulations show that, with greater convertibility, the renminbi could gradually become an international currency within Asia and beyond – sharing from 3 to 12 per cent of international reserves by 2035.