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British Columbia Seeks Cooperation on Yuan Trading Hub

British Columbia Finance Minister Michael de Jong said he’s in discussions with his federal counterpart Joe Oliver about establishing Vancouver along with Toronto as North American centers for offshore yuan trading.

De Jong said British Columbia is hoping to form a working group with Ontario that would set about establishing the Canadian cities as a so-called trading hub for the Chinese currency. The group would include government and industry representatives and be formed within a month, he said.

“I would like to hope that everyone is on side,” de Jong said yesterday by telephone from New York.

Financial centers around the globe are vying to establish trading hubs for the yuan, which surpassed the euro last year to become the most widely used currency in trade finance after the dollar. China has already signed agreements to trade the yuan more freely with Singapore, London and Frankfurt as part of an economic restructuring that includes taking steps to loosen exchange controls.

Canada’s third-most-populous province is seeking to assume a higher profile in China and other Asian countries as it attempts to expand exports and attract capital for natural-resource projects, including development of a liquefied natural gas industry.

“Toronto is a traditional center for trading in Canada and Vancouver is a gateway to the Pacific with a real attraction for some of the Chinese banks,” de Jong said.

While Toronto’s business community is “pushing hard” for a yuan hub to be located in Canada’s largest city, Oliver said in a separate interview in New York yesterday “it’s not clear you have to make a choice of one of the two.”

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