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The United Arab Emirates and Qatar drive RMB adoption in the Middle East

Published 
  • SWIFT’s RMB Tracker shows that the RMB is now the most active currency used by the UAE and Qatar for direct payments with China and Hong Kong

Brussels – Recent SWIFT data shows that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar are the most active Middle East countries using the RMB for direct payments with China and Hong Kong. In 2015, the UAE’s use of the RMB accounted for 74% of payments by value to China and Hong Kong, an increase of 52% compared to 2014. In Qatar, the RMB was used for 60% of all payments with China and Hong Kong, a huge rise of 247% compared to 2014.

However, looking at all cross-border flows worldwide, SWIFT data reveals that still the majority of the payments between these Gulf States and China/Hong Kong are in USD and subsequently intermediated, mainly by USD clearing banks.

“Use of the RMB has been rising across the Middle East region over the last few years. Adoption has been supported by developments such as the establishment of an RMB clearing centre in Qatar last year – the first in the Middle East – and the recent memorandum of co-operation signed between the People’s Bank of China and the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates to set up RMB clearing arrangements in the UAE,” says Sido Bestani, Head of Middle East, Turkey and Africa at SWIFT. “We anticipate these and similar efforts will continue to drive RMB adoption across the region.” In December 2015, the RMB remained stable in its position as the fifth most active currency for global payments by value and accounted for 2.31% of global payments, with an increased market share compared to 2.28% in November 2015. Overall, RMB payments value increased by 15.92% compared to November 2015, whilst in general all payments currencies increased by 14.43%.

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