Chinese Renminbi to be Identified in the IMF’s Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves

March 4, 2016

Press Release No. 16/90
March 4, 2016

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) will separately identify the renminbi (RMB) in its official foreign exchange reserves database starting October 1, 2016. The change will be reflected in the survey for the fourth quarter of 2016 that will be published at the end of March 2017.

The survey, known as COFER (Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves), lists, on a voluntary basis, the currency composition of holdings of foreign exchange reserves across the IMF membership in the form of statistical aggregates. The separate identification of the RMB implies that, as of that date, IMF member countries will be able to record as official reserves their holdings of RMB−denominated external assets that are readily available for meeting balance of payments financing needs. The renminbi will join the group of currencies that are currently identified in the survey: U.S. dollar, Euro, Yen, Pound Sterling, Swiss Franc, Australian Dollar, and Canadian Dollar. All other currencies are listed together.

When the IMF Executive Board determined the RMB to be a freely usable currency and decided to include it in the basket of currencies that make up the Special Drawing Right (SDR), effective October 1, 2016, it underscored the importance of making efforts to address remaining data gaps, including in the currency coverage of the COFER survey, ahead of the next SDR review.

On February 26, 2016, the Board agreed to make the change in COFER effective October 1, 2016, thus providing the lead time necessary for COFER survey respondents to adjust to the change.


The IMF’s conducts the COFER survey on a quarterly basis and publishes at end of every quarter the aggregated data for a reference date of the previous end-quarter. Participation by countries in this survey is voluntary. Currently, the COFER database distinguishes separately monetary authorities' claims on nonresidents denominated in the U.S. dollar, Euro, Yen, Pound Sterling, Swiss Franc, Australian Dollar, and Canadian Dollar. The claims are in the form of banknotes; bank deposits; treasury bills; other, short-and long-term, government securities; and other claims usable in the event of balance of payments need.

For reference:

The Board Paper: Separate Identification of the Chinese Renminbi in the COFER Survey. February 18, 2016

Q&A on the Separate Identification of Renminbi-Denominated Reserves Holdings, March 4, 2016

The data can be accessed on

Factsheet: Special Drawing Right (SDR)

Factsheet: Review of the Special Drawing Right (SDR) Currency Basket

Press Release: IMF Releases Data on the Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves with Additional Data on Australian and Canadian Dollar Reserves, June 28, 2013


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