HONG KONG, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Total Renminbi trade settlement handled by Hong Kong banks in 2012 surpassed 2,600 billion yuan ( 413 billion U.S. dollars), a year-on-year increase of 37 percent and representing over 90 percent of the Chinese Mainland's cross- border trade settled in RMB, Hong Kong's financial secretary John Tsang said here on Wednesday.
Tsang told lawmakers at the city's Legislative Council in his budget speech that Hong Kong is now the world's largest and most efficient offshore RMB business hub, with the world's largest offshore pool of RMB. Total RMB deposits and outstanding RMB certificates of deposits stood at 720 billion yuan at end-2012.
Hong Kong also serves as a platform for enterprises and financial institutions all over the world to carry out various financial activities such as RMB payments, financing and investments, he said.
Apart from the Renminbi trade settlement, Hong Kong's RMB bond market also showed continuous growth. At end-2012, outstanding RMB bonds issued in Hong Kong exceeded 230 billion yuan, an increase of 62 percent over end-2011, he said.
Hong Kong, which aims to become the offshore RMB center, started offshore RMB business in early 2004, and Hong Kong banks began to handle Renminbi trade settlement in 2009. At the end of 2011, the financial hub launched the RMB Qualified Foreign Institutional Investors (RQFII) Scheme, which allows Hong Kong's designated institutions to invest in the Mainland security market.
Tsang said the range of offshore RMB investment products has been broadened since the launch of RQFII, and the city's government would continue the dialogue with the relevant Mainland authorities to expedite the next stage of RQFII's expansion, which will include extending the pilot scheme to qualified Hong Kong financial institutions.
"We shall continue to strengthen our market infrastructure, and stay connected with other financial centers in the world with a view to further enhancing the use of RMB for trade settlement, financing and investment at the international level, consolidating Hong Kong's position as an offshore RMB business center."
Hong Kong is an international financial center, and the financial services industry underpins our economy. The industry employs 230,000 people, or six percent of the city's total workforce.