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China Tells Lenders To Slash Rates For SMBs

Chinese regulators are hoping to give a boost to small business (SMBs) lending by telling banks to cut interest rates for SMB borrowers, according to reports in Reuters on Monday (July 9). Two unnamed sources said that regulators have told banks to “significantly cut” lending rates for small businesses in the third quarter of the year, compared to first quarter rates.

Reports said China is in the midst of efforts to mitigate economic uncertainty and financial risks linked to a trade war with the U.S. Economists are warning that the trade disputes could slow economic growth in China. Small businesses are caught in the crosshairs of that trade war, according to the National Small Business Association in the U.S.

At the same time, the economy has suffered from regulators’ ongoing crackdown on risky and shadow lending, which has driven up corporate lending costs in the traditional banking center. The unnamed sources said the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) issued a non-public notice late last month asking banks to increase real-time lending rate monitoring.

Reuters said the CBIRC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter. The nation’s central bank does not make pubic lending rates for small businesses, reports noted, though the most recent monetary policy report said the weighted average lending rate for business borrowers was 5.96 percent in March.

Regulators in China have also recently cut capital reserve requirements by 50 basis points in an effort to support lending to small businesses, the publication said. Last month, the unnamed sources added, Chinese banks were asked to maintain a reasonable level of overall costs and asset quality as it relates to small business lending.

Data released earlier this year from the People’s Bank of China said that small businesses accounted for about one-third of all outstanding loans in China as of April 2017. Separate reports in FINSMES said small business borrowing in China is growing at a faster pace than borrowing among larger corporates.

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