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Source: China Daily China Daily

Expert: Concerns on capital flows overdone

Published: 01 Jul 2014 22:06:21 PST

Concerns that loosening controls over China's capital account may lead to strong volatility in capital flows are "overdone", Ma Jun, the chief economist at the central bank's research bureau, told a forum on Tuesday.

If the capital account convertibility materializes, "the capital either going into China or out of China is not going to be massive. There will be some, but maybe less than people think", Ma said in his first public speech after taking the post in April.

He argued that China's capital account is already partially open, but that hasn't led to massive capital inflows or outflows.

For example, in Hong Kong people can convert between the yuan and Hong Kong dollar, and private banks in Hong Kong provide essential capital account convertibility services to wealthy individuals.

He said if China further loosens its grip on capital flows, the chances of inflows and outflows will rise. Capital will flow into China's bond market seeking higher bond yields relative to overseas markets. Meanwhile, China's outbound direct investment is increasing.

"China needs to further increase the yuan's flexibility" to cope with the increase of capital outflows and inflows, said Ma, a former chief China economist at Deutsche Bank AG.

Ma's comments may suggest a relatively more liberal stance by the People's Bank of China over capital account liberalization, despite many domestic economists' caution.

Expert: Concerns on capital flows overdoneExpert: Concerns on capital flows overdone
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Ju Jiandong, an economics professor at Tsinghua University, told the forum that the yuan is actually under strong depreciation pressure. The opening up of the capital account could result in the "bursting" of the renminbi bubble, Ju said.

Ma seemed far less concerned, saying that the currency's value is much closer to equilibrium than five to six years ago.

He Fan, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the interesting question is: Since China's capital account is already undergoing de facto opening-up, "why do the authorities bother to commit to further opening-up "

His guess is that the central bank is seeking to reform the current regulatory system by deepening capital account liberalization. He said the way to address the "clumsy" and "inefficient" approval system is to improve exposure to the global monetary system.

In a separate forum, Dai Xianglong, former chairman of the China National Social Security Fund Council, said China's capital account convertibility is very likely to be realized in the coming five to 10 years.

"Promoting renminbi internalization is not to challenge the US dollar's position as the world's dominant currency, but (it comes) from an inner demand for further reform and opening-up of the Chinese economy," Dai said at a seminar hosted by the International Finance Forum in Beijing.

But it will take longer to persuade countries to use the yuan in their foreign reserves.

"The key lies in boosting international confidence in the renminbi, but that involves a series of complicated issues apart from economic development," said Dai.

Expert: Concerns on capital flows overdoneExpert: Concerns on capital flows overdone
Top 10 most-used currencies in the world Clearing facility to support London's renminbi business 

25-Jun-2014 Zheng Yangpeng

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