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King dollar’s role as the global reserve currency called into question after Trump’s win

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Zhang Peng | LightRocket | Getty Images

The Chinese renminbi (yuan) might look like a direct winner from potential uncertainty surrounding a Donald Trump presidency, but analysts warn the country's trade surplus and lack of government transparency could offset the currency's popularity as a global currency reserve.

The renminbi gained international acceptance from the International Monetary Fund last year, but it has failed to gain popularity, especially against the heavily traded U.S. dollar which is still considered the true global reserve currency. However, some analysts argue that Trump's protectionist policies and the uncertainty surrounding what path he will take for the largest economy in the world could boost the Chinese currency as a reserve.

"No longer is the U.S. dollar the only haven of safety. There is an alternative – renminbi," Daryl Guppy, CEO of Guppytraders financial market training platform, told CNBC on Friday.

A strong reserve currency is essentially seen as safe and stable and is held in large quantities by governments and institutions. It also increases the demand for a country's sovereign debt if its currency is widely traded and used. But the fact that investors are unsure of what President-elect Donald Trump will do could make other reserve currencies more appealing.

"It is possible that Trump could boost renminbi as a reserve currency as the relative safety of the U.S. dollar comes under question due to the uncertainty surrounding President Trump," Alex Dryden, global market strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management, told CNBC via email on Friday.

"Some of Trump's rhetoric surrounding negotiating the U.S. debt burden, for example, could damage the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency," he added.

However, even if the Republican victory does boosts the search for other reserve currencies, analysts are not certain that the Chinese renminbi would be the number one option.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Las Vegas on Oct. 5, 2016.
Mike Segar | Reuters
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in Las Vegas on Oct. 5, 2016.

"Trump is likely to encourage a large CNY (Chinese yuan renminbi) devaluation ahead, ironically the opposite of what he wants to see. Once it (the renminbi) finds a more natural - and lower - level, it might become more popular as a reserve, though that will still be tricky unless China runs a trade deficit rather than a surplus," Michael Every, head of financial markets research in Asia-Pacific at Rabobank, told CNBC Friday via email.

Every added that to make the renminbi more attractive as a reserve it would need to be at "a fair level, not being subject to constant FX (foreign exchange) intervention, having deep, liquid ‎capital markets to put savings into, having transparency in all government dealings and China running trade deficits."

The large number of capital outflows is one of the main drags to the Chinese economy and, according to the International Monetary Fund, this year's outflows should be broadly similar to 2015's as a percentage of GDP (gross domestic product). The IMF said last August that China's trade surplus should be 5 percent of GDP in 2016, largely in line with the level seen last year.

"However, it is important to caveat these points with the fact that we don't actually know what policies and changes Trump plans to make," Dryden from JP Morgan said.

"We need significantly more detail before we can draw conclusions on the relative stability of the dollar and the change in preference from USD to RMB would not happen overnight, it would be a gradual change over the course of the next few years," he added.

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