June 27, 2014 / 7:46 AM / 3 years ago

China simplifies rules on banks' foreign exchange business

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BEIJING, June 27 (Reuters) - China has simplified rules governing the buying and selling of foreign exchange by banks, in a move to cut red-tape and give them leeway in managing risks.

Banks will have greater autonomy in foreign-exchange transactions with companies and individuals, and the threshold for banks to enter the FX market will be lowered while approval procedures will be simplified, according to the central bank.

The step is intended to "perfect the supervision system on banks' foreign exchange purchases and sales and safeguard the stable operations of the foreign exchange market", it said.

China has the world's biggest pile of foreign exchange reserves, which hit a record $3.95 trillion at the end of March. Firms sells dollars to banks, which in turn sell most of them to the central bank in the interbank market.

Under the revised regulations published on the central bank's website, www.pbc.gov.cn, foreign exchange business of policy banks and big commercial banks will be approved by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), while that of other banks will be approved by the SAFE's branches.

The new rules will take effect on Aug. 1.

Previously, currency business of policy banks, state banks and joint-stock commercial banks must have approval from both the central bank and the SAFE, the foreign exchange regulator.

When dealing in derivatives, banks must make sure their clients have real needs and are able to control risks, and banks must keep their positions with approved limits, according to the new rules.

The SAFE said on Thursday that it will increase the number of foreign exchange derivative products available in the market to facilitate export growth and help companies hedge currency risks. (Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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