SHANGHAI, May 5 (Reuters) - China has started accepting applications from bond market makers seeking clearance to participate in a bond connect scheme with Hong Kong, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Friday.
The China Foreign Exchange Trade System (CFETS), which is supervised by the People's Bank of China, announced the step during a promotional event in Shanghai, the sources said.
Reuters reported on Tuesday that Hong Kong and Chinese regulators were set to formally unveil a long-awaited scheme to connect China's $8 trillion bond market with overseas investors in July, with the launch expected in the Autumn.
Plans for a "Bond Connect" programme have been percolating since Beijing launched a scheme allowing two-way trading between the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets in 2014.
One of the three sources said qualifications for foreign institutional investors to participate in the bond connect scheme would be similar to the rules released by the central bank in February 2016, when China further opened up its domestic interbank bond market to overseas investors.
Reuters requested a comment from CFETS on the latest development, but there was no immediate response. (Reporting by Ivy Lv and John Ruwitch; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)