February 2, 2023
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia at Riyadh's al-Yamamah Palace in Saudi Arabia, Dec. 8, 2022. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

Goodbye Dollar Hello Yuan

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Xi calls for oil trade with Saudi Arabia be settled in Chinese yuan which if adopted by the Saudis will mark the end of the US dollar supremacy in world trade

President Xi Jinping told Gulf Arab leaders on Friday that China would work to buy oil and gas in yuan, a move that would support Beijing’s goal to establish its currency internationally and weaken the U.S. dollar’s grip on world trade.

Xi was speaking in Saudi Arabia where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hosted two “milestone” Arab summits with the Chinese leader which showcased the powerful prince’s regional heft as he courts partnerships beyond close historic ties with the West.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia co-sign in person the comprehensive strategic partnership agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and agree to take turns to host biennial meetings between the heads of state of the two countries Xinhua

Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and economic giant China both sent strong messages during Xi’s visit on “non-interference” at a time when Riyadh’s relationship with Washington has been tested over human rights, energy policy and Russia.

Any move by Saudi Arabia to ditch the dollar in its oil trade would be a seismic political move, which Riyadh had previously threatened in the face of possible U.S. legislation exposing OPEC members to antitrust lawsuits.

Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have defied U.S. pressure to limit dealings with China and break with fellow OPEC+ oil producer Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, as they try to navigate a polarised world order with an eye on national economic and security interests.

Riyadh is a top oil supplier to China and the two countries reaffirmed in a joint statement the importance of global market stability and energy collaboration, while striving to boost non-oil trade and enhance cooperation in peaceful nuclear power

Xi said Beijing would continue to import large quantities of oil from Gulf Arab countries and expand imports of liquefied natural gas, adding that their countries were natural partners who would cooperate further in upstream oil and gas development.

China would also “make full use of the Shanghai Petroleum and National Gas Exchange as a platform to carry out yuan settlement of oil and gas trade,” he said.

Beijing has been lobbying for use of its yuan currency in trade instead of the U.S. dollar.

A Saudi source, speaking before Xi’s visit, told Reuters that a decision to sell small amounts of oil in yuan to China could make sense in order to pay Chinese imports directly, but “it is not yet the right time”.

Most of Saudi Arabia’s assets and reserves are in dollars including more than $120 billion of U.S. Treasuries that Riyadh holds, and the Saudi riyal, like other Gulf currencies, is pegged to the dollar.

Source Reuters/SAPA/Xinhua

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