China’s yuan ousts dollar to become most traded currency in Moscow in 2023

By Elena Fabrichnaya and Alexander Marrow

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Moscow Exchange trading volume in Chinese yuan surpassed that of the U.S. dollar in 2023, the Kommersant daily reported on Tuesday, as Moscow pursues a de-dollarisation strategy in the face of Western sanctions on its financial system.

Moscow is becoming increasingly dependent on Beijing and the “no limits” partnership between the two countries, having increased energy supplies to China and stepped up purchases of Chinese goods from cars to smartphones as European and U.S. brands left the Russian market over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Yuan trading accounted for almost 42% of all foreign currency traded on Moscow Exchange with the volume in 2023 more than tripling year on year to 34.15 trillion roubles ($391.5 billion), Kommersant reported, citing Moscow Exchange data.

The dollar’s share stood at 39.5%, with a volume of 32.49 trillion roubles, down from 49.90 trillion roubles in 2022 and a more than 63% share. Yuan trading accounted for a 13% share in 2022.

The exchange declined to provide Reuters with the data.

Unable to trade in what Moscow now considers “unfriendly” currencies like dollars and euros, Russia is seeking to foster trade elsewhere.

China’s use of yuan to buy Russian commodities has sharply increased. China’s 2023 two-way trade with Russia hit a record $240 billion, Chinese customs data showed last week, up 26.3% from a year earlier.

Russia has ramped up imports invoiced in yuan. Over-the-counter trading of the Emirati dirham and Indian rupee has also grown significantly, although exchange trading in those currencies has not yet been launched.

($1 = 87.2290 roubles)

(Reporting by Elena Fabrichnaya; Writing by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)