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How will US-China trade wars affect RMB?

The renminbi (RMB) has lost some of its standing as an international payments currency, according to a measure of the currency's use on the SWIFT network. SWIFT's RMB Tracker for February 2018 shows that the RMB has dropped two positions to number 7 in the currency rankings, which list global currencies used for domestic and international payments by value. In the first quarter of this year, the yuan was overtaken by the Swiss franc and Canadian dollar. The yuan's share of global trade fell from 1.66 per cent in January 2018, to 1.56 per cent in February.

According to SWIFT, the currency's payments value decreased by 18.28% compared to January 2018, whilst in general all payments currencies declined by 12.69%.

SWIFT said that February's decrease is likely to have been influenced by the seasonal effect of the Chinese New Year. However, The RMB's position on the RMB Tracker is also down compared to February 2016, when it retained its position at #5.

Could the tensions over trade tariffs announced by the US and China also be causing the RMB's slump as a global trade currency? Last month, the US announced plans to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion-worth of Chinese imports and limit the country's investment in the US. China said it would reciprocate.

Also of note is that the euro, sterling and yen all increased their share of global trade between January and February this year, while Swiss franc leap-frogged both the Canadian dollar and the renminbi to rank fifth. While the RMB lost some of its global share, so did the US dollar.

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