ICBC opens its first branch in Mon­treal

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By JACK FREIFELDER in New York jack­freifelder@chinadailyusa.com

The open­ing of a new branch in Mon­treal by the Industrial and Com­mer­cial Bank of China (ICBC), the coun­try’s largest bank, will mean a strength­en­ing of the trad­ing part­ner­ship be­tween Canada and China, said the bank’s chair­man.

“As the only Chi­nese Cen­tral Bank des­ig­nated an RMB clear­ing bank in North Amer­ica, we look for­ward to sup­port­ing Mon­treal’s lo­cal busi­nesses and adding value to ex­ist­ing fi­nan­cial par­ties,” Jiang Jian­qing said in a May 29 state­ment an­nounc­ing the open­ing of the new branch.

The bank’s ex­pan­sion will also help Chi­nese busi­nesses tap into the North Amer­i­can mar­ket, he said.

De­nis Coderre, the mayor of Mon­treal, said the ar­rival of ICBC in Greater Mon­treal would “re­in­force” the city’s fi­nan­cial prospects on the in­ter­na­tional front while also “strength­en­ing” ties with the world’s largest econ­omy.

China is Canada’s sec­ond­largest trad­ing part­ner, be­hind the United States, data from the Canadian gov­ern­ment shows.

ICBC is the largest of the four Chi­nese state-owned com­mer­cial banks, ahead of the Bank of China, Agri­cul­tural Bank of China and the China Con­struc­tion Bank. ICBC’s Canadian sub­sidiary al­ready has nearly 10 branches in Canada.

ICBC pro­vides fi­nan­cial ser­vices to over 4.6 mil­lion busi­nesses and 400 mil­lion clients in 42 coun­tries and re­gions across the world. As of March 2014, the bank had as­sets that ex­ceeded $3.32 tril­lion.

In Novem­ber, the Peo­ple’s Bank of China au­tho­rized ICBC’s Canadian af­fil­i­ate in Toronto to act as a clear­ing bank for the yuan, also known as the ren­minbi (RMB). The move took ef­fect in March, sig­nal­ing the first time that China’s cen­tral bank had ever des­ig­nated an RMB clear­ing bank in North Amer­ica.

Toronto joins Lon­don, Frank­furt, Lux­em­bourg, Hong Kong, Sin­ga­pore, Syd­ney and Tai­wan as of­fi­cially rec­og­nized trad­ing hubs.

A trad­ing hub min­i­mizes the cost of trans­ac­tions for Canadian firms do­ing busi­ness in China be­cause it negates the need to trans­fer funds from dol­lars into yuan.

An Oc­to­ber 2014 study by the Canadian Cham­ber of Com­merce es­ti­mated that al­low­ing di­rect trade in the yuan could save Canadian firms up to C$6.2 bil­lion (US$4.96 bil­lion) over 10 years.

The bank’s de­ci­sion to open a branch in Mon­treal shows that “Que­bec and China have strong eco­nomic ties,” said Car­los Leitão, Que­bec’s fi­nance min­is­ter.

“This spe­cial re­la­tion­ship is a key as­set for Que­bec busi­nesses look­ing to en­ter the vast Asian mar­ket,” Leitão said. “The move also con­firms Mon­treal’s sta­tus as a lead­ing fi­nan­cial hub in North Amer­ica and shows that Greater Mon­treal has a vi­brant econ­omy that draws the at­ten­tion of top play­ers. I am con­fi­dent that it will only grow stronger.”

Do­minique Anglade, pres­i­dent and CEO of Mon­treal In­ter­na­tional, the re­gion’s lead­ing in­vest­ment pro­mo­tion agency, said: “Greater Mon­treal is fo­cus­ing in­creas­ingly on Asia as a strate­gic des­ti­na­tion for busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties, so it is es­sen­tial that we bol­ster in­vest­ments and trade be­tween our two coun­tries.”

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