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Addis Denies Coming Currency Devaluation


FILE: Representative illustration of the Ethiopian "birr" currency. Taken Nov. 26, 2020

Ethiopia's deputy finance minister said on Thursday that rumours the birr currency would be devalued were "completely unfounded", as the east African country seeks an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan after an African Union-backed ceasefire.

"There is widespread rumor that devaluation is in the making. This is just a rumor. Completely unfounded," state finance minister Eyob Tekalign said on Twitter.

"A sensible macro reform is always our agenda but there should not be any concern about mere devaluation."

Ethiopia currently operates a managed exchange rate for the birr, allowing it to depreciate gradually against the dollar. In 2020, the IMF recommended moving to a market-clearing exchange rate regime, to deal with an overvalued currency and FX shortages.

The birr currently trades at 53.42 to the U.S. dollar, according to Refinitiv Eikon data, but it is worth 96-97 on the black market according to a Reuters reporter and the country has long experienced foreign exchange shortages.

Africa's second-most populous country requested a debt restructuring under the Group of 20's Common Framework process in early 2021, but progress was held up by a two-year civil war in the Tigray region.

Ethiopia's government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), a guerilla force-turned-political party, agreed on Nov. 2 to stop fighting following talks.

The IMF requires debt relief commitments from a country's bilateral creditors before it agrees to a loan program.

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