London official urges financial easing

YUAN HUB::Regulatory constraints have limited Taiwan’s capability to develop into a viable offshore yuan business center, Fiona Woolf said

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Jan 16, 2014 - Page 13

Taiwan has the potential to develop into a large offshore yuan business center like Singapore and Hong Kong if the government further loosens regulations on financial products and services, Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf said in Taipei yesterday.

“You will need to see more liberation in the way financial products and services are regulated in Taiwan,” Woolf told a press conference.

“It’s very unusual for regulators to approve licenses required to sell new financial products and services after evaluating them in details,” Woolf said, adding that local and international banks tend to miss the best time to sell new products and services because of how long it takes them to get approval in Taiwan.

Woolf visited Taipei three years ago with then-lord mayor David Wootton. Over the past two days in Taipei, she had met with many local business and political leaders — including President Ma Ying-jou (馬英九), Financial Supervisory Commission Chairman William Tseng (曾銘宗) and central bank Governor Perng Fai-nan (彭淮南) — to promote opportunities in financial services between the UK and Taiwan.

Citing the “enormous” growth of businesses between Taiwan and China over the past two years, Woolf said she was “excited about the opportunities for Taiwan and London to work together on renminbi [yuan] business.”

However, because of strict regulatory constraints, Taiwan has not developed “its capability as an offshore renminbi business center with really good financial products and services,

she said.

“The regulatory regime is very constrained at the moment, particularly for onshore banks and offshore banks,” Woolf said.

“I will suggest the Taiwanese government’s first step is to liberalize the financial service sector and then to phase out the difference between onshore and offshore banks, which actually does not exist in the global market, or the money would go to Hong Kong and Singapore,” Woolf added.

According to the central bank’s latest report, Taiwan’s yuan deposits amounted to 182.6 billion yuan (US$230.2 billion) as of the end of last year, compared with 10 trillion yuan in Hong Kong.

The Lord Mayor of London is an apolitical and unpaid position and the legal title of the head of the City of London Corp.

Elected in November, Woolf is the second woman to hold the post since 1189. Her major duties include promoting London’s business environment and expertise.

Additional reporting by CNA