China Southern Airways has received a UKEF-backed renminbi (Rmb) loan equivalent to US$100mn from HSBC, for the purchase of an Airbus 330 aircraft from the manufacturer’s UK operation.

The 12-year deal represents UK Export Finance’s (UKEF) first Rmb-denominated guarantee, as the export credit agency recently added the Chinese yuan to its list of supported currencies.

According to UKEF, this is also the first time for an export credit agency anywhere in the world to guarantee a loan in Chinese offshore Rmb.

David Godfrey, UKEF chief executive, says: “[The] Rmb is already the second most used currency in trade finance after the US dollar and we fully expect to support many more such deals in the future.”

Spencer Lake, global head of capital financing at HSBC, adds: “This is a big step in the evolution of export finance, and of the internationalisation of the renminbi, two core areas of activity for HSBC. As the currency is deployed more widely and more innovatively in long-term financing situations, we are seeing how collaboration between China, the UK and the rest of the world is leading to real and immediate benefits for businesses and economies across the globe.”

The deal was announced during a visit to an Airbus factory in Wales by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. He welcomed the transaction, which he said would pave the way for British companies to export more to China.