ASHGABAT, March 13 (Reuters) - Turkmenistan has tightened foreign exchange controls, a central bank document showed on Friday, after China, the main buyer of its natural gas, slashed imports and global energy prices collapsed.
According to a document seen by Reuters, Turkmenistan’s central bank has reduced to $300 per month from $500 the amount of foreign currency that citizens are allowed to purchase by having it deposited onto their bank cards.
The limit on outgoing wire transfers has been cut to $200 per month from $300, according to the same document. Legally buying cash dollars has long been virtually impossible in the isolated Central Asian nation of 6 million.
The central bank which has kept the manat exchange rate fixed since early 2015 could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Gas exports to China are Turkmenistan’s main source of hard currency. PetroChina, the main buyer, has suspended some purchases as a seasonal plunge in demand added to the impact on consumption from the coronavirus outbreak.
Oil prices, to which gas prices are often linked, have plunged after Russia and OPEC failed to agree deeper cuts in response to the demand slump due to coronavirus. (Reporting by Marat Gurt Writing by Olzhas Auyezov Editing by Peter Graff)