China's currency could be eventually used as an alternative to the U.S. dollar and Euro by southeast Asian countries, experts said.

Phathanaphong Phusuwan, a senior official of the Bank of Thailand, said in a seminar on Thai-Chinese trade, investment and finance relations on Saturday that the yuan would likely be used more between China and ASEAN member states in the long run.

In the panel discussion co-hosted by the National Research Council of Thailand, Huaqiao University and the Thai-Chinese Culture & Economy Association here, the official of the Thai central bank commented the Chinese currency could possibly replace the U.S. dollar and Euro when it comes to trade, financial and money-exchange dealings throughout the ASEAN community, due in part to the unresolved economic and financial problems in the United States and the European Union.

"In the long run from 2015 onwards, trade with Asia will largely increase under the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area agreement, which will influence the use of the yuan and the local currencies. The yuan is then a good alternative for the international trade in the future," said the official, referring to the year in which the regional bloc will become an ASEAN Economic Community.

Nevertheless, he said, the role of the Chinese currency in Thailand and other ASEAN states will remain limited in the short and medium terms.

Thai merchants have increased their use of the yuan in trade, following the easing of restrictions by the Chinese government, he said. A dozen Thai commercial banks and foreign banks' branches here currently offer yuan-based services, including foreign currency deposits, money exchange, fund transfers and purchases of Chinese banknotes.

The Chinese currency has accounted for 10.8 percent of China's trade dealings with the world during the first half of this year, according to a report of the Thai central bank.

Professor Ridong Hu of Huaqiao University's College of Economics and Finance remarked in the seminar that last year's total trade between China and Thailand amounted to 64.7 billion U. S. dollars, 22.3 percent increase over the previous year, turning Thailand into China's second largest trading partner in the regional bloc.

Thailand plays a leading role in promoting integration of the Asian economy as well as serves as a link and helps in the development of strategic partnership between China and ASEAN, the Chinese academic said.

Asst. Prof Kai Yuan of Huaqiao University's School of Law described the Sino-Thai trade and economic cooperation as a win- win option for both sides and that such bilateral relationship is the touchstone of success for trade, investment and financial sectors under the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area treaty.

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