China should improve the yuan exchange rate management and shift to a more flexible regime along with in-depth financial opening-up, a leading financial think tank said.
A more flexible exchange rate can avoid hampering the international usage of the yuan and keeping it away from the international currency group, said a report published by the China Finance 40 Forum over the weekend.
The report said further reform is needed on some basic financial schemes, including the monetary policy framework and exchange rate regime, in order to match the pace of financial opening-up, especially at a time when the U.S.-China trade dispute has created more uncertainties and challenges.
The internationalization of the Chinese currency, or a process of expanding the yuan usage in cross-border trade and investment, should be continued, but with no specific time schedule, according to the report.
Commodity trade should be one of the options considered to promote yuan-denominated payment globally, the report said.
"For the next step, speed is still not the priority that we want to pursue, and there is no target to say when and where we must go," said Huang Yiping, deputy dean of Peking University's National School of Development and the chairman of the CF40 academic board.
Maintaining financial stability should always be the precondition of financial opening-up, said Huang, who is also a former member of the central bank's monetary policy committee.
Instead of launching specific connect programs to link the onshore and offshore capital markets, such as the Shanghai-Hong Kong and Shenzhen-Hong Kong stock connect programs, a holistic opening plan should be taken by using the "negative list" management method, Guo Kai, deputy director of the People's Bank of China's monetary policy department and the leader of the research said in the report.
China accelerated the internationalization of the yuan a decade ago. A milestone of the process was achieved in 2016, when the currency joined the International Monetary Fund's basket of Special Drawing Rights. After that, the yuan internationalization slowed, as the exchange rate policy shifted to stabilize market expectations when the yuan was facing depreciation pressures.
Earlier this month, China's forex regulator - the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) - decided to remove the investment quota restrictions for the Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) and Renminbi Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (RQFII) schemes to boost financial opening-up.
Seen as a big step in promoting cross-border investment, the move will make it more convenient for foreign investors to participate in China's bond and stock market, as qualified foreign institutional investors under the two programs just have to register for remitting funds independently and carrying out securities investments.
Measures should be taken to prevent risk and support financial stability during the financial opening-up process, said Huang, adding that this calls for further improvements in the regulation system.
Experts have also said that there are some disadvantages in the existing monetary policy framework like multiple targets and various policy tools, making it difficult for the public to understand the monetary authority's intention and influencing the efficiency of market communication.
Under the current exchange rate mechanism, neither a fixed exchange rate system nor a completely free floating system can curb investors' expectations on the yuan exchange rate, it said.
In August, the yuan regained its fifth spot in the currency rankings for global payments by value, with a share of 2.22 percent, up from 1.81 percent in July, the highest level since January 2016, according to a report from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), which provides a network that enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardized and reliable environment. In terms of international payments excluding payments within the eurozone, the yuan moved up by one position to the seventh place with a share of 1.42 percent in August, the SWIFT said.
Yuan internationalization is a key factor in fostering high-quality economic development, the CF40 forum said urging authorities to further optimize the financial sector structure by providing better services for small-and medium-sized enterprises.
The market-oriented reform of interest rate should continue, so as to let the market decide the interest rate level based on risk assessment, said Justin Yifu Lin, dean of the Institute of New Structural Economics at Peking University.
Yang Kaisheng, former president of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, suggested the need for a special policy bank to provide government-guaranteed loans to SMEs, which can help limit credit risks.