China's launch of a Yuan-backed oil futures market could shatter the US dollar dominance of the crude oil market, a goal China and Russia, with support from, Iran, have been working towards for at least five years. The US dollar will not give up the top spot easily however so we can expect interesting times ahead for business and trade.
The long awaited yuan-backed crude oil futures market was launched at the end of last month in Shanghai. China is the world’s biggest oil consumer, with eyes on rival benchmarks Brent and WTI as well as the US currency. Beijing sees the US dollar dominated oil market as standing in the way of it's becoming the world's largest economy.
Trading of the new oil futures contracts for September settlement started on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange at 440.20 yuan ($69.70) per barrel, reports Chinese daily the South China Morning Post. Some 18,540 lots have reportedly been sold and purchased so far.
“The question number one is whether China will be able to make the oil market its demand market, and not the oil supply market traded in dollars, which it is now,” Vladimir Rozhankovsky, Global FX Investment analyst comented, according to geopolitics.co. China has recently overtaken the US as the world's number one oil buyer.
If the world trade enters into a death spiral of reciprocal economic sanctions, keeping oil trade in dollars will be a matter of strategic importance, or a matter of survival for the US,” the analyst added, referring to the recent spate of tit for tat export tariffs imposed by China and the USA.
As a result of these, Washington can deliberately undermine the image of the petro-yuan by attacking Chinese stock, which could result in the devaluation of the yuan, making Chinese oil futures less attractive, Rozhankovsky said. However, the US has some major disadvantages on which the petro-yuan can capitalize. First, the US dollar is still overvalued in currency markets, making domestic oil production very expensive. Second, while Russia and Iran have overland pipelines, the United States does not have transatlantic pipelines to its major markeys in Europe, and tankers are costly and highly risky, the analyst added.
“The trade war between the US and China has already begun. China has plans to promote the renminbi as a reserve currency and there is no better move than to purchase raw materials in its national currency. It can save money on the currency conversion and become less dependent on the US dollar,” Stanislav Werner, head of the analytical department of Dominion, commented in whatreallyhappened.com
Werner notes that the oil market is worth $14 trillion at the moment, and is bigger than the Chinese economy. "The first trading sessions were volatile, but this is a typical story for new financial instruments. The US has a serious reason to get nervous, because in many ways the hegemony of the US dollar came from oil trading in dollars," he said.