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Sterling area

A number of countries, known as the scheduled territories, most of them past members of the British empire, whose currencies used to be linked to sterling and which retained sterling as their official reserve currency. For many years’ members of the sterling area enjoyed certain privileges, the principal ones being freedom from exchange controls and the right to draw at will on that part of their national currency reserve represented by sterling balances held at the Bank of England. The abandonment of sterling as a safe currency on the international scene, the emergence of the European Economic Community and British membership of it have all, however, diminished the importance of the sterling area, and the sterling balances in particular, and its role in international trade is no longer of any major significance.

Reference: The Penguin Business Dictionary, 3rd edt.