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China approves foreign banks to open free trade accounts

THE Chinese central bank today announced HSBC China and Nanyang Commercial Bank China will be the first batch of foreign banks approved to open free trade accounts for clients to handle money transactions with greater freedom.

The FTA unit of HSBC passed all inspections on January 8 and Nanyang on January 9, according to a note on the website of Shanghai headquarters of the People’s Bank of China.

The FTA was a special financial institution account system introduced by China’s central bank in May last year to separate cross-border transactions conducted in the Shanghai pilot Free Trade Zone from onshore transactions.

Banks are required to connect their systems with the central bank to allow the latter to monitor all transactions under risk management rules.

HSBC China today confirmed it has signed agreements with more than 30 companies, covering industries such as pharmaceutical, energy and automobile, who intend to use the new account for enhanced efficiency in cross-border transactions between the Shanghai free trade zone and overseas markets.

Helen Wong, president of HSBC China, said the FTA could allow the bank to offer a wider range of financial solutions to support cross-border expansion of its clients.

“The FTA marks a milestone innovation in the drive for financial reforms in the free trade zone,” Wong said. “By connecting the Shanghai FTZ with offshore markets, the new account system allows companies to conduct transactions more easily in meeting their financing needs for cross-border trade and investment, in support of the real economy.

A total 13 banks and the Shanghai Gold Exchange have been approved in three batches to carry out free trade account services.


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