Yuan Tops Dollar As Most Traded Currency in Russia

  • China’s yuan became the most traded foreign currency on the Moscow Exchange last year.
  • The yuan accounted for 42% of currency trades, topping the dollar’s share of 39.5%.
  • Yuan trading volume tripled to 34.15 trillion rubles ($385 billion) in 2023, while the dollar’s volume fell.

China’s yuan was the most traded foreign currency on the Moscow Exchange last year, dethroning the US dollar.

The renminbi accounted for 42% of all foreign currency trades on Russia’s largest bourse, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing data collected by Russian news outlet Kommersant Daily. The volume of yuan traded tripled to 34.15 trillion rubles ($385 billion) over the course of 2023.

Meanwhile, the dollar made up 39.5% of those transactions, down from over 63% in 2022, as trading volumes tumbled by more than a third to 49.90 trillion rubles ($560 billion).

The shift to reduce the greenback’s use, broadly known as dedollarization, gained momentum after the West levied heavy sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

That largely shut out Moscow from the global financial system, forcing it to rely more on currencies other than the dollar and euro. In December, the Kremlin said Russia and China have almost completely phased out the use of the dollar in bilateral trade. 

Meanwhile, countries like China, India, and Iran have also been trying to use non-dollar currencies for trade transactions and international loans to weaken the hold of the West on their economies.

China in particular has been aggressive in its attempts to internationalize the yuan. Beijing has been signing currency swap agreements and doling out yuan-denominated loans.

And its dedollarization drive seems to be working: in November, the yuan was the fourth most used currency in global payments, doubling from 2022 levels to a record 4.61%.

In September, the yuan also took second place in global trade finance, ousting the euro. That’s as Beijing’s lower interest rates made trade financing more affordable, the Financial Times reported.

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