The coronavirus pandemic and US-China trade tensions are pushing China towards increased regional coordination in trade that may become a catalyst for yuan internationalisation, according to professor Ba Shusong, Chief China Economist of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing.

“Compared to previous years, we see something has changed,” Ba said on Tuesday at an online press conference organised by Hong Kong’s Financial Services Development Council (FSDC).

“While US-China trade has declined, this year is the very first time that Southeast Asia became China’s biggest trading partner. So cooperation within the region is really strengthening.”

Ba, who is also a member of the FSDC’s Mainland Opportunities Committee, said the trend could be to Hong Kong’s advantage. The city could play an important role in providing professional financial services given its