The handwriting on the wall?
Brazil and China will work towards using their own currencies in trade transactions rather than the US dollar, according to Brazil’s central bank and aides to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president.
The move follows recent Chinese challenges to the status of the dollar as the world’s leading international currency.
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Mr Lula da Silva, who is visiting Beijing this week, and Hu Jintao, China’s president, first discussed the idea of replacing the dollar with the renminbi and the real as trade currencies when they met at the G20 summit in London last month.
An official at Brazil’s central bank stressed that talks were at an early stage. He also said that what was under discussion was not a currency swap of the kind China recently agreed with Argentina and which the US had agreed with several countries, including Brazil.
“Currency swaps are not necessarily trade related,” the official said. “The funds can be drawn down for any use. What we are talking about now is Brazil paying for Chinese goods with reals and China paying for Brazilian goods with renminbi.”
Henrique Meirelles and Zhou Xiaochuan, governors of the two countries’ central banks, were expected to meet soon to discuss the matter, the official said.
Brazil: Exports to ChinaMr Zhou recently proposed replacing the US dollar as the world’s leading currency with a new international reserve currency, possibly in the form of special drawing rights (SDRs), a unit of account used by the International Monetary Fund.
In an essay posted on the People’s Bank of China’s website, Mr Zhou said the goal would be to create a reserve currency “that is disconnected from individual nations”.
In September, Brazil and Argentina signed an agreement under which importers and exporters in the two countries may make and receive payments in pesos and reals, although they may also continue to use the US dollar if they prefer.
An aide to Mr Lula da Silva on his visit to Beijing said the political will to enact a similar deal with China was clearly present. “Something that would have been unthinkable 10 years ago is a real possibility today,” he said. “Strong currencies like the real and the renminbi are perfectly capable of being used as trade currencies, as is the case between Brazil and Argentina.”
In what was interpreted as a sign of Chinese concern about the future of the dollar, the governor of China’s central bank proposed in March that the US dollar be replaced as the world’s de-facto reserve currency.
In an essay posted on the People’s Bank of China’s website, Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank’s governor, said the goal would be to create a reserve currency ”that is disconnected from individual nations” and modelled on the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights, or SDRs.
Economists have argued that while the SDR plan is unfeasible now, bilateral deals between Beijing and its trading partners could act as pieces in a jigsaw designed to promote wider international use of the renminbi.
Any move to make the renminbi more acceptable for international trade, or to help establish it as a regional reserve currency in Asia, could enhance China’s political clout around the world.
Lula is visiting China, and signed a $10 billion loan and agreements on oil exploration and crude trade
China PetroChemical Corp., the nation’s largest refiner, will explore for oil in two areas in Brazil, Zhang Guobao, the head of the National Energy Administration, said before a signing ceremony to be attended by Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao. Petroleo Brasileiro SA and China Development Bank agreed to a $10 billion loan agreement.
Petrobras, as Brazil’s state-owned company is known, has been in talks with China about a loan since last year. The company has sought alternatives to international bank lending and bonds to finance its spending plan amid the global credit crunch. China is securing energy resources to power its economy, the world’s third-largest, by offering loans to oil-producing countries including Russia, Venezuela and Kazakhstan.
Petrobras will supply 150,000 barrels of crude oil a day to China this year and 200,000 barrels in 2010 under one of the agreements signed today, Chief Executive Officer Jose Sergio Gabrielli said in Beijing, without giving details.
Rio de Janeiro-based Petrobras requires funding on oil exploration. The Brazilian oil producer plans to spend $111 billion through 2020 to produce 1.8 million barrels of oil a day at so-called pre-salt oil fields, Gabrielli said last month.
China, as you may recall, had already proposed
to replace the dollar, installed as the reserve currency after World War II, with a different standard run by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
I’ll be talking about this in today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern. Chat’s open at 10:45, and the podcasts are archived for your convenience.