KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) announced new measures on Friday to encourage more domestic trade of the ringgit, as it looks to stem the currency’s recent slide against the surging US dollar.
BNM said in a statement that exporters can only retain up to 25% of export proceeds in a foreign currency. Higher balances would need BNM approval, it said.
“Foreign currency arising from conversion of export proceeds will be used to ensure continuous liquidity of foreign currency in the onshore market,” the statement said.
The new measures will take effect on Monday (Dec 5).
As a significant sweetener to keep more cash at home, it said all ringgit proceeds from exporters can earn a higher deposit rate of 3.25% per year.
Speaking to reporters, BNM assistant governor Adnan Zaylani said exporters are free to convert currency to meet up to six months of loan obligations that are not denominated in ringgit.
The new measures state that all payments among resident exporters should only be made in ringgit.
Malaysia is looking to shore up the currency, which skidded to 13-month lows last month as the US dollar surged in the wake of Donald Trump’s US presidential election win on Nov 8.
Malaysia and other emerging economies have seen a rise in capital outflows as foreign investors sell local stocks and bonds in expectations of higher returns in US markets if interest rates rise under Trump.
Last month, BNM attempted to clamp down on offshore trade of the ringgit, which has plunged nearly 7% against the dollar over the last two weeks and is Asia’s worst performing currency.
It sent out form letters from banks in Malaysia to their offshore counterparts and clients, seeking a commitment to cease trading the ringgit in the non-deliverable forwards (NDF) markets and later warning of “prompt supervisory intervention” against violators.
While BNM said the measures did not amount to capital controls, markets have remained jittery and its moves have had little impact so far, traders and analysts said.
Adnan said seven banks so far have said they would exit the NDF market, and have discussed with BNM how to manage any impact on their investment portfolios.
“We are providing liquidity to the (onshore) market and will continue to do so as far as necessary. We do need to maintain liquidity in our markets,” Adnan said.
He added that no further measures will be announced on offshore trade of the ringgit.
Among other measures it said residents can hedge and manage foreign exposure with onshore banks subject to prudential limits.
Resident and non-resident fund managers can also freely and actively manage FX exposure up to 25 pct of invested assets.
It would enhance secondary bond market liquidity via commitments of market makers and rebalance demand of foreign currency.
Malaysian ringgit NDFs added to gains after BNM’s announcement. They were up nearly 1% at 4.4385 at 6.25pm (Malaysian time). FMT