Sydney: Britain’s The Independent newspaper on Tuesday reported that Gulf Arab states were in secret talks with Russia, China, Japan and France to replace the US dollar with a basket of currencies in the trading of oil.
The US dollar eased after the report, written by Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk and monitored on The Independent’s Web site. It cited unidentified sources in Gulf Arab states and Chinese banking sources in Hong Kong.
Click to read The Independent’s story
Fisk said the proposal was for trade in crude oil to move to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.
“Secret meetings have already been held by finance ministers and central bank governors in Russia, China, Japan and Brazil to work on the scheme, which will mean that oil will no longer be priced in dollars,” said the report. It added that France had also been involved in the talks.
The Independent said US authorities were aware that the meetings had taken place but had not discovered the details and were “sure to fight this international cabal.”
The issue of shifting oil trade away from the US dollar has been raised occasionally in recent years, but analysts and experts say it is unlikely to occur any time soon.
“I don’t think we will see much concrete actions coming out of such discussions because even when the dollar is weak, it doesn’t mean that commodities are undervalued,” said David Moore, commodities analyst at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. “In fact, when the dollar weakens, commodities prices tend to increase by a higher ratio.”
However, Iran began settling most of its crude oil exports in non-dollar currencies several years ago, primarily the euro, but the actual price for its oil is still set in dollar terms.