The Middle East’s first RMB clearing hub in Qatar to open for trade in May

The ceremonial launch and the signing ceremony establishing the first offshore Renminbi (RMB) clearing centre for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in Doha, Qatar will be held on Tuesday, April 14th.

H E Sheikh Abdulla bin Saoud Al Thani, Governor of Qatar Central Bank, Gao Youzhen, China’s Ambassador to Qatar and Jiang Jianqing, Chairman, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China will attend the event (pictured above).

Cui Bin, Head of the Economic and Commercial Office of the Embassy of China in Qatar told The Peninsula, a daily English language newspaper published in Qatar that he cannot tell when the RMB clearing centre will exactly begin its formal operations, but understands it will be sometime in May 2015. However, the ceremonial launch will indeed be held on April 14th, he said.

Having a renminbi clearing bank in Qatar would not only serve the Chinese currency fund flows in and out of the country through trade and investment, but will help Qatar attract business from other Middle Eastern countries in the region to pursue trade through Qatar.

According to analysts, the clearing deal with China appears to represent a win for Qatar in its competition with other Gulf financial centres, particularly Dubai, which is the region’s largest banking hub.

Banknotes of the Qatari riyal, issued by the Qatar Central Bank.

Banknotes of the Qatari riyal, issued by the Qatar Central Bank.

Cui further said the economic and trade cooperation between Qatar and China has experienced a rapid development over the last few years. The bilateral trade value has increased sharply from 400m in 2004 to 10.6bn in 2014, a twenty-six fold in 10 years. Qatar is the biggest supplier of liquefied natural gas to China.

Chinese companies have signed more than $8bn in project contracts in Qatar, involving civil construction, roads and bridges, ports and telecommunications. Besides, cooperation in the field of financial services, aviation and tourism are also progressing well. Qatar has become one of the most important business hubs in the Middle East and the Gulf region. Currently, an estimated 100 Chinese companies are operating in Qatar, of them 30 are major publicly traded companies.

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