China-Russia bilateral trade was US$24.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019, according to Chinese customs. This was up 30 percent over the first quarter of 2018. China has become Russia’s largest trade partner with about 14 percent of payments in yuan and 7-8 percent in ruble.
There are plans to reach US$200 billion in mutual trade by 2020, sign a local currencies settlement agreement later this year and extend the use of the national credit-card systems Union Pay and Mir in both countries.
In April, 2019, the yuan ranked fifth among global currencies, accounting for 1.88% of payments that went through SWIFT in April. The U.S. dollar was used for 40.76% of transactions, followed by the euro (33.16%), the U.K. pound (7.11%) and the Japanese yen (3.47%).
A Chinese clearing and settlement services system aimed at internationalizing the yuan saw its use grow about 80% in value terms last year, a Nikkei survey finds, a rising challenge to the hegemony of the U.S. dollar.
Since the People’s Bank of China began operating the Cross-border Interbank Payment System in October 2015, hundreds of banks in 89 countries and regions have participated. The system processed 26 trillion yuan ($3.77 trillion) of payments in 2018.
In May 2018, China and the Eurasian Economic Union signed a trade and economic agreement as a base to reduce dollar dominance in trade and as an important milestone in linking the Eurasian Economic union to the Belt and Road Initiative.
China is the world’s largest importer and second largest consumer of crude oil. In 2018, China launched a yuan-denominated crude oil futures contract on the Shanghai Stock Exchange – the so-called petroyuan – amid a growing willingness from Iran, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to settle oil payments in yuan and other non-dollar currencies.
In 2019, Russia has plans to issue federal bonds denominated in yuan for the first time, with as much as US$1 billion worth of notes trading on the Moscow exchange.
In August 2015, China’s yuan was briefly the fourth most-used world payment currency by overtaking the Japanese Yen. However, it has fallen back behind the Yen. Chinese currency’s share as a total of global payments fell against the year-ago period. The yuan accounted for 1.68 percent of international payments in December 2016. The currency’s share was 2.31 percent in December 2015. A major reason why the renminbi has not gained traction among international users is that the government has instituted strong controls over its financial system.
In 2014, the US dollar was the dominant international trade currency, with a 51.9% share of the value of international currency usage in 2014. The euro was second, with a 30.5% share of the total value. The British pound is third, with a 5.4% share of the total value. In 2015, the yuan reached a record high market share of 2.79 percent in global payments for the month, compared to 1.39 percent in January 2014.