Posted on April 19, 2016

Today the Qatar Remninbi Centre (QRC) celebrates its first year of anniversary and is proud to announce new participating banks. The QRC is the first clearing centre in the MENA region to offer RMB clearing and settlement services and opens the door to China’s onshore RMB and foreign exchange markets to local financial institutions, fostering cross-border use of the currency in Qatar and the Arab World. The QRC was inaugurated in 2015 under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani (pictured), Prime Minister of Qatar and Minister of Interior.

In one year, the QRC has already established itself as the third largest currency clearing facility operated by the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), handling more than RMB 303bn (US$ 47bn) worth of transactions. A number of banks in Qatar already opened an account with ICBC, which was designated as the settlement bank for the QRC and are expanding their portfolio of products. Qatar National Bank, Commercial Bank of Qatar, Qatar Islamic Bank, International Bank of Qatar (Q.S.C) and Saudi Hollandi Bank have RMB accounts open with ICBC and are able to offer an expanded portfolio of RMB denominated products and transactions to their customers.

Robin Wei, QRC Head of RMB business, encourages more banks to join the QRC: “We are proud of what we have accomplished within a short period of time with the Qatar RMB Centre. We work hand-in-hand with financial institutions to help them develop their RMB portfolio and make trading directly in RMB simpler and faster. Local investors have showed a strong appetite for RMB financial products and remain confident in the China market over the long term. The QRC is open to all local and regional banks to help them seize future opportunities arising from China’s economic opportunities”.

In November 2015, the International Monetary Fund approved reserve-currency status for the Chinese renminbi, paving the way for broader use of the renminbi in trade and finance. The QRC is instrumental in positioning Doha as the first and leading RMB clearing centre in the MENA region and to strengthen trade relations between China and Qatar. Qatar is now the largest exporter of natural gas to China, meeting around 20 percent of Chinese energy demands.

The bilateral trade volume between Qatar and China has increased from US$400m (QR1.46bn) in 2004 to US$10.6bn (about QR38.6bn) in 2014, a significant jump. Also, it is forecasted that by 2020, the largest share of GCC exports will go to China, at around US$160bnWhile China is taking strong initiatives under the Silk Road Economic Belt, the QRC is set to tremendously strengthen financial ties between Beijing and the Middle East, allowing Qatar to fully benefit from the internationalization of the RMB