YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The US dollar fell against Armenia’s national currency–the dram–despite the dollar’s rally in world financial markets this month.
The dram gained 5 percent in value against the dollar over the past 10 days–approaching its three-year high registered in the middle of December. It was trading at an average of 473 against $1 on Monday–with a 20 percent increase in value from a year ago.
The trend is surprising given the almost 5 percent increase in the dollar’s value against the euro since the beginning of this month. Some economists speculate that the Central Bank is artificially bolstering the dram in an effort to benefit importers of key commodities.
The Central Bank argues–however–that the stronger dram is the result of increased cash remittances from Armenia’s working abroad. An estimated amount of at least $760 million was sent to Armenia last month through banks and wire transfer networks.
The bank’s chairman Tigran Sarkisian insisted that the strong dram is a positive for the Armenian economy because of resulting low levels of inflation. "The dram’s strengthening has had a major restraining impact on the prices of imported goods," he said in late December.