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Egypt relaxes controls on forex transfers: official

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

CAIRO (Reuters) - The Egyptian central bank has relaxed restrictions on foreign currency transfers abroad, a central bank official said on Tuesday, allowing individuals to make a one-time transfer abroad of up to $100,000 this calendar year.

Under currency transfer restrictions brought in after the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak, the central bank set an open-ended $100,000 limit on the amount of hard currency an individual could transfer abroad.

A central bank letter circulated to banks on Monday and posted on the bank's website said the change would take effect from January 2014 and could not be applied retroactively. It aimed to "facilitate bank dealing and meet customer needs".

The central bank said the change applied only to 2014, without saying what system would apply after that. Under the old regulations, individuals could transfer only a total of $100,000 in foreign currency throughout their lives, the central bank official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Egypt's foreign currency reserves have been under pressure since the 2011 uprising. The central bank said on Monday reserves had dipped to $17.032 billion in December from $17.766 billion in November - less than half their level on the eve of the 2011 uprising.

The reserves dropped as low as $13.424 billion in March of last year, below the $15 billion needed to cover three months worth of imports.

Some relief came in July after the army deposed President Mohamed Mursi and Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates - states hostile to his Muslim Brotherhood group - pledged $12 billion in aid to Cairo.

(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Larry kIng)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/140107/egypt-relaxes-controls-forex-transfers-official