16 Aug 2023 10:43

Russian govt in talks with exporters on stabilizing ruble, mulling return of mandatory forex sales - sources

MOSCOW. Aug 16 (Interfax) - Government agencies and the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) are in talks with exporters on measures to stabilize the ruble's exchange rate, including the reinstatement of mandatory sales of forex revenue with a requirement to sell as much as 90%, three sources involved in the discussions told Interfax.

Senior officials of the government, CBR, Finance Ministry, Economic Development Ministry and Energy Ministry met with major exporters on Monday with the aim of finding measures to stabilize the ruble, one source said. At this meeting, representatives of the ministries and the CBR asked the companies to increase forex sales on the market and to report on the scale of these sales.

They also discussed the transparency of the distribution of forex earnings within companies and the possible use of intermediaries, one source said. In connection with this, they discussed the possibility of monitoring the accumulation of forex abroad, the source said.

If these measures have no effect by the end of the week, the authorities are prepared to reimpose mandatory sales of forex earnings on the domestic market, three sources familiar with the discussions told Interfax. The baseline option in this case is to require the sale of 70% to 90% of forex revenue within three months of a commodity being exported.

They are also considering banning payment of dividends and loans abroad, even in rubles and in friendly jurisdictions. Another possible measure is to ban lending to foreign trading divisions, as well as other transactions that could be classified as funneling money abroad.

Exporters who evade repatriation of earnings could face restrictions on pre-export financing, subsidies and support measures, the sources said.

In addition, at the meeting the authorities mentioned the toolbox of the new tax on windfall profits, to which they could resort if exporters are slow to cooperate to resolve the situation, one of the sources said.

Another source familiar with the talks confirmed that the meeting was held and that instructions were issued based on its results, but did not provide details.

The CBR and Finance Ministry have not yet responded to questions.

Russia might reimpose some currency control measures in order to stop the depreciation of the ruble, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources. A proposal to bring back mandatory sales of forex earnings was discussed at a meeting between the authorities and exporters on Monday, the agency said. Some of Bloomberg's sources said no progress was made on this issue and that another meeting might be held later this week.