UPDATE 1-China, UK discuss setting up yuan clearing bank in London - Osborne
* Talks mark progress from early discussions last year
* ICBC, Bank of China usual suspects
* Move to put London in leading position in Europe
By Grace Li and Michelle Chen
HONG KONG, Feb 20 (Reuters) - The British and Chinese governments are in active discussions about setting up a clearing bank in London for China's currency, a milestone that will put the city in a leading position to offer yuan trade business in Europe.
Taking a leaf out of Hong Kong's blueprint in being the leading offshore yuan hub after the establishment of Bank of China (Hong Kong) as a clearing bank, the authorities are pressing ahead with having one for the city of London.
The move will help expand the Chinese currency's footprint beyond Hong Kong, where more than 80 percent of yuan trade settlement transactions are handled and foster greater confidence among European companies to adopt the yuan, also known as the renminbi, as a currency for trade.
"The UK and Chinese governments are in active discussions now about the appointment of a RMB clearing bank in London, recognising London's role as the Western centre of offshore RMB trading," Britain's finance minister George Osborne said on Thursday. He was speaking at the British Chamber of Commerce Hong Kong.
All other offshore centers have Chinese banks as trade clearing institutions; Singapore has Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) and Taiwan, Bank of China , as clearing institutions. Continuación...