October 15, 2019 / 11:43 AM / a month ago

China clarifies inter-scheme bond transfer rules for foreign investors

SHANGHAI, Oct 15 (Reuters) - China’s central bank and foreign-exchange regulator on Tuesday announced tweaks to rules allowing foreign investors to move bonds between market access schemes as the country seeks to attract more foreign capital to its onshore bond market.

The revisions by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), posted on the PBOC’s website on Tuesday evening, clarify the definition of “single institutional investor”, directing that if a foreign institutional investor opens multiple accounts under the same managed product name, it should be treated as a single product.

The regulators said they would further clarify other matters, including the process for repatratriation of funds from trading accounts and the adjustment of foreign exchange derivatives positions after transfers between accounts, in subsequent documents.

The adjustments followed feedback on draft rules published in May aimed at letting foreign investors switch bonds between the China Interbank Bond Market Direct scheme (CIBM) and two older programmes, Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor (QFII) and its yuan-denominated sibling, RQFII.

China also opened Bond Connect, the most direct fixed income channel to date, in 2017, allowing access to the onshore interbank market via Hong Kong.

Foreign investors held more than 2.1 trillion yuan ($296.61 billion) worth of Chinese yuan-denominated bonds at the end of September, a record high, as a combination of a steady yuan, relatively high yields and the phased inclusion of Chinese bonds in some major global bond indexes helped to drive inflows.

But technical hurdles continue to stand in the way of broader foreign involvement. In September, index provider FTSE Russell declined to add China to its widely tracked government bond index due to market liquidity, foreign exchange flexibility and settlement concerns. ($1 = 7.0799 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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