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Economy

Drastic Uzbek devaluation whets appetite for wider reform

Observers hopeful move may signal growing confidence of new president

Until now, Uzbeks preferred not to change money at banks because of unattractive official exchange rates. (Photo by Ikrom Nosirov)

TASHKENT -- Uzbekistan's moves to devalue and partly float its currency mark the country's first step toward much-anticipated reforms to wipe out the black market in foreign exchange and liberalize the economy. However, the next steps to come remain unclear.

Remittances from Uzbeks working in Russia and other countries account for around 10% of the economy. This fund flow has mostly gone into the black market. Nearly all purchases of property and cars, as well as bribes for government officials, are made in dollars.

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