Ditch the dollar: World leaders who challenged reliance on US currency
Iran and Iraq are the latest in a growing list of nations to distance themselves from the dollar, instead opting to use the euro and their own local currencies for transactions. China and Japan, and China and Russia have also switched to using their own currencies when trading together.
Most international trade is done in dollars and more than 60 percent of foreign currency reserves are in dollars. Despite this, world leaders have spoken out about the dangers posed by the dollar’s dominance.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan
Turkey’s leader announced on Monday that Ankara is preparing to conduct trade through national currencies with China, Russia and Ukraine.
“We need to gradually end the monopoly of the dollar once and for all by using local and national currency among us,” he said at a business forum in Kyrgyzstan.
“America behaves like wild wolves. Don’t believe them,” he added. “Using the dollar only damages us. We will not give up. We will be victorious.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin
The Russian president has long spoken out about the US dollar. Russia has dropped its holdings in the US Treasuries in recent months and the Russian central bank has been increasing its share of gold and yuan.
“The whole world can see that the dollar’s monopoly is precarious and dangerous for many,” Vladimir Putin said in May. “Our gold and currency reserves are being diversified, and we’ll continue to do that further.”
In July Putin said that Russia has no plans to reject the US dollar, but said the US use of currencies for political purposes was undermining the dollar.
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“Regarding our American partners placing limitations, including those on dollar transactions, I believe is a big strategic mistake. By doing so, they are undermining the trust in the dollar as a reserve currency,” he said.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
The president of Venezuela hopes to “free” the country from the US dollar by turning towards other currencies.
“Venezuela is going to implement a new system of international payments and will create a basket of currencies to free us from the dollar,” Maduro said last September. “If they pursue us with the dollar, we’ll use the Russian ruble, the yuan, yen, the Indian rupee, the euro.”
Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took aim at US dominance on Twitter in August. “The use of the US Dollar as the standard unit of currency in global markets and the world banking system is the key strength of the American Empire.” he said. “Things need to change, current orders should be reordered.”
“The #UnitedStatesGovernment by controlling the dollar imposes its beliefs and way of life on other countries. #DictatorshipofDollar,” he added.
Meanwhile, Safar-Ali Karamati, deputy director at the National Iranian Oil Company said in February that the "top priority is to receive cash and oil [payments] in euro."
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
Addressing attendees at the African Continental Free Trade Area business forum in March, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa said it was time for Africa to stop relying on foreign currency.
"We must rid ourselves of this colonial mentality that demands we rely on other people’s currency. Perhaps the day, the hour and the moment could have arrived for us to create a single African currency,” he said. “Our focus should not be on our individual countries but the continent as a whole to unlock great opportunities and capabilities."
French President Charles de Gaulle
Former French President Charles de Gaulle was aware of the limitations of the US dollar as the world’s currency. Speaking at a press conference in February 4, 1965, he said it was impossible for the dollar to be an “impartial and international trade medium,” and that it was “in fact a credit instrument reserved for one state only.”
He is associated with the term “exorbitant privilege” in referring to the US advantage in having its currency as the world currency. However, the term was coined by France’s minister of finance.
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