Exporters here offered Chinese bank accounts as trade surges
Irish exporters are to be offered their first opportunity to operate a Chinese currency (renminbi) bank account as trade between Ireland and the world's second largest economy surges.
HSBC's Irish corporate banking unit will offer the accounts so that companies can be paid directly by their Chinese customers or pay their Chinese suppliers their local currency.
The accounts will be offered to business customers only. While exporters to China will be offered the accounts, firms importing supplies from China will also be able to use them, HSBC has made clear.
Irish companies selling into China will be able to repatriate the currency back into euro from renminbi, but at a time of their choosing, giving them more control over currency risk.
The account will allow Irish companies buying from China to make payments directly to their Chinese suppliers in the local currency, thus achieving better pricing terms and access to a wider group of customers.
Trade between Ireland and China is worth €5bn annually and is expected to grow further over the next five years.
China is the world's second largest economy and its largest exporter, Alan Duffy, who heads up HSBC's corporate banking unit said such accounts would remove a key barrier from doing business in Ireland.
Until recently there were strict restrictions on the movement of Chinese currency. This meant the Chinese currency could not leave the country.
But controls have gradually been loosened and certain approved counterparties can now do trades between the renimbi and other currencies.
In February, HSBC completed its first renminbi trade transaction, becoming the first bank to announce such a transaction in Ireland.