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LAWRIE WILLIAMS: China’s 2021 gold demand already exceeds full year 2020

17 Oct 2021

The Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) has released its latest gold withdrawal figures for September and they already exceed full year 2020 figures – not bad for a country apparently experiencing declining growth.  They indicate that the world’s biggest gold consumer is probably going to end the year with gold demand not only higher than Covid-hit 2020, but also probably better than that of supposedly-pre-Covid 2019. 

We equate the SGE’s withdrawal figures as being the best available estimate of real Chinese gold demand, given that it tends to equate closely to the country’s own domestic gold production, plus known gold imports plus a small allowance for recycled gold and unknown imports.  The Chinese are not very forthcoming on releasing some of this data!

In all likelihood the gold demand over the final quarter of the current year will take it comfortably ahead of the 2019 figure.  That they will exceed this amount is speculation at this stage, but the figures are certainly trending in that direction with 2021 withdrawals from the first nine months already above the 2020 full year total as noted above.  Indeed the country could end the year with apparent gold demand well ahead of the 2019 figure.  Withdrawals certainly seem to be heading that way.  We would hazard a guess at a figure of around 1,675-1,700 tonnes - still well below the middle of the previous decade but reversing an apparent downwards trend.

Given the low withdrawals in 2019, which seem to have been trending down from mid-year, it makes one wonder, too, if the initial impact of the Covid pandemic had been becoming apparent well before the Chinese announced the onset of the infection around Wuhan, apparently at end-December 2019?  Perhaps we’re getting into the U.S. proclivity for developing conspiracy theories. 

Table: China SGE Monthly Gold Withdrawals 2019-2021 (Tonnes)





% change 2020-2021

% change 2019-2021






































































Full year






 Source:  Shanghai Gold Exchange, Sharps Pixley.

*Months incorporating Golden Week holidays when SGE closed for a week

** Cumulative totals as reported month by month by SGE for first nine months of the year

 The apparent sharp year-on-year rise in Chinese gold demand as is apparent from the SGE figures, should be taken into account alongside a similarly big  increase in gold import figures which are coming out of the world’s No.2 consumer – India.  (see:  Indian gold demand v. strong, but still not No. 1.”). 

The world’s two most populous nations both seem to be recovering well from the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 virus pandemic and both have populations that are very much attuned to the power of gold as a wealth protector and as a gift on special occasions. 

With the main Indian wedding season now in full swing and the important Diwali Festival coming up, along with positive monsoon rains, gold demand tends to be strong over the final months of the year there.  Meanwhile Chinese merchants are beginning to stock up ahead of that country’s big New Year celebrations, so gold demand tends to remain strong there too as the year-end approaches.All positive signs for gold’s demand fundamentals.

17 Oct 2021 | Categories: Gold, China, India

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