Economics, Featured, News, Opinion

Breaking The Dollar’s Monopoly – A Global Diversification Trend

Nmesoma Okwudili


April 13, 2023

The US dollar has been the world’s primary reserve currency since the Bretton Woods Agreement in 1944. However, there has been growing interest in diversifying away from the dollar in recent years, particularly in light of geopolitical tensions, trade imbalances, and the rise of emerging economies. As the world’s reserve currency, the US dollar has been the go-to currency for international trade and finance. However, the global financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent shifts in the global economy have led to a growing desire among countries to diversify their reserves away from the dollar.

One of the key drivers of the diversification away from the dollar is the desire to reduce the risks associated with having a significant portion of a country’s reserves denominated in a single currency. This risk was highlighted during the global financial crisis when the dollar experienced significant fluctuations in value, which led to losses for some countries. To mitigate these risks, countries have started diversifying their reserves into currencies such as the euro, yen, and yuan.

However, diversification away from the dollar is not just limited to reserves. Countries also want to diversify their trade and investment relationships away from the US. One of the main reasons for this is the growing concern over the unpredictability of US trade policy. The US-China trade war, for example, highlighted how easily US trade policy can change, leading to disruptions in global supply chains. To avoid overly reliant on US trade, countries seek to diversify their trade relationships by looking to other markets such as Europe, Asia, and Africa.

In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the diversification of countries from the US dollar, particularly by Russia and China. Sanctions imposed on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, combined with Washington’s increasingly confrontational approach to China, have created a perfect storm in which Russia and China seek to reduce their reliance on the dollar. However, experts believe that plans by Russia and China to challenge the dollar on the world stage are going nowhere, as Russia’s fragile economy and China’s capital controls make both their currencies unattractive alternatives to the dollar.

Despite these obstacles, Russia and China have been investigating alternative currencies to lessen their dollar reliance. In a challenge to the dollar’s dominance, Russia and China initiated discussions to develop a new reserve currency with the other BRICS nations last year. The new reserve unit would be based on a basket of currencies and used for international trade and payments between BRICS nations.

Russia and China’s efforts to reduce their reliance on the dollar are exemplified by the declining use of the dollar in bilateral trade transactions. In the first quarter of 2020, only 46% of trade transactions between Russia and China were denominated in US dollars, down from 90% just five years earlier. This trend indicates that Russia and China are diversifying away from the dollar gradually.

Russia and China are not the only countries seeking alternatives to the dollar. Numerous nations have been evaluating alternatives to the dollar in an effort to reduce its dominance. Concerned about America’s dominance over the global financial system and the nation’s ability to “weaponize” it, for instance, other nations have been evaluating alternatives to the dollar in an effort to reduce its hegemony. These nations include Brazil, India, the ASEAN nations, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

A second reason countries diversify away from the dollar is to reduce their exposure to US financial institutions and associated risks. The global financial crisis brought to light the interconnectedness of the global financial system and the dangers of relying on a small number of large financial institutions. To mitigate these risks, some nations are developing their own financial institutions or collaborating with institutions from other nations to reduce their reliance on US institutions.

Countries are also attempting to diversify their economies away from their traditional dependence on exports of primary commodities. Many countries with low incomes rely heavily on the export of natural resources such as oil, natural gas, and minerals. However, these exports are frequently susceptible to fluctuations in global commodity prices, which can have a significant effect on an economy. To mitigate these risks, nations seek to diversify their economies through the development of other industries, including manufacturing, services, and technology.

Diversification away from the dollar presents both difficulties and opportunities for nations seeking to reduce their reliance on the United States. One difficulty is the potential volatility and unpredictability of using new or untested currencies, especially if they lack the dollar’s depth and liquidity. There is also the possibility of political and economic tensions with the United States, which may view diversification efforts as a threat to its global power.

However, diversification is also associated with significant opportunities. One opportunity is the potential for increased trade and investment with countries that use the same currency, thereby creating new markets and growth prospects. Another opportunity is the potential for greater independence in monetary policy, which would allow nations to better manage their economic cycles and respond to local needs and priorities.
Several nations have already taken steps to diversify their economies away from the dollar, with varying degrees of success. Russia, for instance, has been decreasing its holdings of US Treasuries, increasing its gold reserves, and exploring new currency agreements with China and other nations. China has been promoting the use of the renminbi in international trade and finance, as well as establishing new institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank to compete with the World Bank and IMF.

In the interim, some nations have investigated alternative assets such as cryptocurrencies. El Salvador, for example, recently became the first nation to recognise Bitcoin as legal tender, and Venezuela has been exploring the use of its cryptocurrency, the petro, to circumvent US sanctions.

Diversification away from the dollar is a difficult and complex process. Nonetheless, it is becoming increasingly crucial for many nations seeking to lessen their reliance on the United States and increase their economic independence and resilience. This shift is accompanied by significant risks and uncertainties, but it also presents substantial opportunities for growth, trade, and innovation. As the world becomes increasingly multipolar and interconnected, diversification away from the dollar will likely become a trend to closely monitor in the coming years.


  • “Chile is an example of a diversified economy, exporting over 2,800 distinct goods to over 120 countries. Zambia, a nation similarly endowed with copper resources, exports slightly more than 700 products, or one-fourth of Chile’s export basket, to only 80 countries. URL:
  • “Four crucial factors The methodology demonstrates a clear relationship between non-commodity exports that contribute to diversification and complexity and four economy-wide variables that contribute to their support: governance, education, infrastructure, and open trade. “discussion of economic diversification by advancing a definition that encompasses two related dimensions of diversification: (i) trade diversification (i.e. exporting new or better products, or to new markets) and (ii) domestic production diversification (i.e. cross-sectoral rebalancing of output, driving the reallocation of” URL:
  • “The process of economic development in many low-income countries involves diversification — a shift from subsistence agriculture, natural resource extraction, and other forms of primary production to manufacturing, services, and other industries with added value.” URL:
  • “Diversification of exports can lead to higher growth. Developing countries should diversify their exports because doing so can help them overcome export instability or the negative impact of terms of trade on primary products, among other challenges. The process of economic development is typically a structural transformation in which countries shift from producing “poor-country goods” to “rich-country…” URL:
  • “Economic Diversification: Explaining the pattern of economic diversification in the global economy and its implications for encouraging economic diversification in less developed nations.” Economic diversification…” URL:

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