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China Starts Publishing Trade Data in Yuan Amid Currency Push

China started publishing monthly export and import statistics in yuan as the nation steps up promotion of the currency for international use.

The General Administration of Customs gave yuan-denominated figures alongside U.S. dollar numbers in the monthly trade report today, saying in a statement that it is following a “common international practice” of putting official data in the local currency. More than 80 percent of Chinese trade is still declared in dollars and the agency will continue to calculate growth rates according to dollar-based numbers, customs said.

China wants to encourage greater use of its currency in global trade and finance, including a pledge to support yuan hubs outside the nation. Offshore interbank trading of yuan started this week in Taiwan, which is poised to sell its first bonds denominated in the currency, following Hong Kong and London.

“The customs move is a symbolic gesture of trying to boost the yuan’s profile,” said Zhang Zhiwei, chief China economist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Hong Kong and a former researcher for the International Monetary Fund. “Its fundamental meaning is limited as most Chinese trade is settled in dollars.”

China’s cross-border cargo trade settlement in the local currency amounted to 2.06 trillion yuan ($330 billion) in 2012, the People’s Bank of China said in its fourth-quarter monetary-policy report released Feb. 6. That represents about 9 percent of China’s total trade of $3.87 trillion last year.

Exports in January were 1.18 trillion yuan, or $187.4 billion, and imports were 994.9 billion yuan, or $158.2 billion, customs said today.

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