ALMATY, Aug 14 (Reuters) - The Uzbek sum has gained about 9 percent against the dollar on the Central Asian nation’s black market over the past seven days, as a full-scale exchange rate liberalisation appears imminent.
The former Soviet republic this month abolished mandatory sales by exporters of a quarter of their foreign currency revenue, after earlier allowing a limited number of banks and companies to deviate from the official exchange rate in deals.
The final steps would be allowing full convertibility of the currency, aligning the official and market rates and lifting restrictions that force ordinary Uzbek to buy foreign currency from the black market rather than from banks.
It is not clear when the authorities plan to formalise the reform, but the black market rate has already started adjusting.
According to websites such as dollaruz.net which publish black market quotes, the sum has jumped to 7,400-7,500 per dollar on Monday from 8,100-8,200 a week earlier.
Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s most populous nation and second-biggest economy, has until this month required exporters to sell a quarter of their foreign currency revenue at the official rate, about 4,100 sums per dollar.
Importers, at the same time, can only buy foreign currency on a separate bourse where they pay about 8,000-9,000 per dollar, although the rate is not officially reported.
The third, black market rate, is mostly used by individuals for cash transactions. Both foreign businessmen and Uzbek officials have called the currency controls one of the main obstacles in the way of foreign investment. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Alison Williams)