The Strategist

Why does China wants to trade oil futures in yuan?

12/05/2017 - 11:54

The economic war between the US and China is entering an active phase. The Americans refused to recognize the PRC as a country with a market economy and are preparing another portion of anti-dumping measures. In turn, Beijing is getting ready to respond asymmetrically and in the near future is going to launch a trade in oil futures for yuan, which can be converted into gold.

The United States officially notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) that they refuse to recognize China as a market economy country. The European Union is in solidarity with the Americans. The Chinese authorities want to achieve a "market" status for themselves, to get rid of the protective duties on their goods.

Earlier, the US Department of Commerce, as part of an anti-dumping investigation into the supply of Chinese aluminum foil, has already refused to recognize the PRC as a country with a market economy.

In turn, the European Union adopted new anti-dumping rules that allow introducing a special import regime for countries with "significant distortions of the market" and practicing "social and environmental dumping".

These actions, expectedly, aroused the outrage of Beijing. An official representative of the Ministry of Commerce of the PRC noted that US statements "are a serious distortion of the real situation in China". At the same time, he urged the US side to take real steps to correct erroneous actions, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The United States constantly conduct anti-dumping investigations against Chinese products and rely on them on the rules applicable to those countries with non-market economies.

On November 13, the US Department of Commerce decided that plywood producers from China were dumping and receiving subsidies.

Director of the Department of Trade Protection and Investigation of the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China said that the anti-dumping investigation continued, "ignoring the obligations to the WTO," to refer to the so-called "counterparts", a practice that is discriminatory. "

According to him, the Americans refused to consider "evidence materials presented in large numbers by Chinese companies, and due to a distorted view of the production processes at Chinese enterprises, the amount of dumping margin was unreasonably raised." 
The Chinese side hoped that the recent visit of US President Donald Trump to China would allow at least part of the trade disagreements. Despite the signing of agreements between the companies of the two countries for $ 250 billion, there was no breakthrough at the state level.

Deputy Foreign Minister of China reported that China is ready to significantly expand access to the Chinese financial sector, reduce tariffs on imported cars, and to relax restrictions on foreign car manufacturers on new energy carriers.

But, apparently, Donald Trump needs everything, not individual concessions. He is convinced that trade relations with China are unprofitable for the US (America imports much more than exports to China), and intends to change the situation. Non-recognition of market status, anti-dumping investigations are elements of this economic war.

Yet, China has something to answer. And this answer is not so straightforward, but is much more effective.

The PRC continues to press the United States on the global foreign exchange market. Earlier, the yuan was included in the list of IMF currencies, and now China wants to press the dollar as a universal means of calculating oil.

According to the promulgated plans, by the end of the year, one of the Chinese stock exchanges may launch trading futures for oil in RMB, and they can be converted into gold.

A chain of oil - yuan - gold can become very attractive for investors and oil-producing countries, first of all, those that to some extent are conflicting with the US – namely, Russia, Venezuela, Iran. Among those, Russia is the largest oil supplier to China. By the end of October, shipments totaled 4.65 million tons. Saudi Arabia ranks second with 4.61 million tons, the third with 3.57 million tons from Angola.

Analysts say that the sale of oil futures in yuan is an instrument aimed at de-dollarization of both the oil market and the entire world economy. At that, this process is not fast.

Since the 1970s, OPEC countries have been selling oil in "petrodollars". The wide conversion of petrodollars into US Treasury bonds (treasuries) is a vital component for the US economy. But from now on, oil producers will be able to take a strategic step in the exchange of oil for gold or treasuries, depending on future expectations.