By Jack Jordan
Belarus’s central bank will refrain from additional changes to its currency management policy for 20 to 30 days as the country negotiates a bailout loan with Russia, the state-run Belta news service reported, citing an unidentified central banker.
The former Soviet republic announced on March 29 that it would allow local lenders to sell foreign currency to companies at an exchange rate that deviates as much as 10 percent from the official rate. Without a loan from Russia, that devaluation will not be enough to curtail its current-account crisis, Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote in a report yesterday.
“Belarus could exploit its friendly, if increasingly fraught, relationship with Russia and ask for loans to bridge the deficit, if only temporarily,” Ivan Tchakarov, chief economist for Russia and the former Soviet Union at Bank of America in Moscow, wrote in the report. “We have seen over the last couple of days enough indications to argue that such an announcement is in the offing.”
The eastern European nation expects in the “near future” to complete talks with Russia and other former Soviet partners on a $3 billion bailout loan, according to a statement published on the finance ministry’s website today. The country faces increasing need for foreign support after Moody’s Investors Service downgraded its debt ratings to B2 on March 29, with a negative outlook, citing “significant near-term external financing gaps.”
Yields on Belarus’s 2015 dollar bonds fell 20 basis points to 11.93 percent as of 6:22 p.m. in Minsk, while its 2018 dollar notes yielded 11 basis points less at 11.70 percent. The Belarusian ruble was unchanged at 3,046 per dollar, leaving its overall drop this week at 0.5 percent.
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