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Invoicing Currency in International Trade: An Empirical Investigation and Some Implications for the Renminbi

  • Edwin L.-C. Lai

    (Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research)

  • Xiangrong Yu

    (Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research)

To play the role of a unit of account, an international currency must be a currency widely used to invoice international trade. This paper investigates the determinants of the use of currency in trade invoicing and evaluates the potential of the renminbi for the denomination of cross-border transactions in the Asia-Pacific region. In particular, we develop a simple model and establish the evidence showing that there is a convex relationship between the invoicing share of a currency and the economic size of its issuing country because of a coalescing effect and thick market externalities. We use the ratio of the foreign exchange turnover share of a currency to the global GDP share of its issuing country as a proxy for the size of thick market externalities, which we argue reflects capital account openness, financial development, and exchange rate stability of a country. This ratio is very small for the renminbi compared with that for established international currencies. Our quantitative analysis suggests that the renminbi can be a major invoicing currency in the region only if China sufficiently opens up its capital account and liberalizes its financial sector. We also draw a parallel between the renminbi and the euro and forecast the invoicing share of the renminbi in the Asia-Pacific region if the renminbi market attained the same degree of thickness as the euro.

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Paper provided by Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research in its series Working Papers with number 082014.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hkm:wpaper:082014
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  1. Barry, Eichengreen, 2011. "The renminbi as an international currency," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 723-730, September.
  2. Hongyi Chen & Wensheng Peng & Chang Shu, 2009. "Renminbi as an International Currency: Potential and Policy Considerations," Working Papers 182009, Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research.
  3. Friberg, Richard & Wilander, Fredrik, 2008. "The currency denomination of exports -- A questionnaire study," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 54-69, May.
  4. Goldberg, Linda S. & Tille, Cédric, 2008. "Vehicle currency use in international trade," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 177-192, December.
  5. Richard Portes & Helene Rey, 1998. "The Emergence of the Euro as an International Currency," NBER Working Papers 6424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Grassman, Sven, 1973. "A fundamental symmetry in international payment patterns," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 3(2), pages 105-116, May.
  7. Cheung, Yin-Wong, 2011. "Renminbi Going Global," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt2qn810hg, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
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