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LAWRIE WILLIAMS: India Gold Imports up 22.4% in Fiscal 2017/18

While we can get a good idea of the direction of mainland China gold imports from the published export figures from Switzerland, Hong Kong, the USA, the UK and Australia, Indian imports are sometimes a little harder to tie down. On Swiss export figures Indian gold imports appeared as if they might be falling, but now we have the reported figures to the Indian Parliament for the latest fiscal year (ended on March 31st) and this shows that they have actually been rising quite significantly– contrary to some mixed messages in general media reporting.  For fiscal 2017/18 Indian gold imports are reported as totalling 955.16 tonnes – some 22.4% higher than in fiscal 2016/17.

Imports of gold into India are a major consideration for the country’s government given they account for a high proportion of the country’s total import bill and corresponding balance of payments deficit, and the government, over the past few years, has been trying to hold them back. With Chinese gold consumption as measured by Shanghai Gold Exchange withdrawals running at a little over 2,000 tonnes annually (see: China H1 gold demand exceeds 1,000 tonnes) the world’s two leading gold consumers look to be accounting between them for around 90% of global annual new-mined gold output.

With today’s Gold Demand Trends figures from The World Gold Council suggesting overall global gold demand may be running a little lower this year, although primarily due to a fall in inputs to gold ETFs, then this could be seen as a welcome development given the huge populations of India and China.  Both are developing economies with more and more people moving into the middle class classifications and with an inbuilt historic propensity to buy gold as protection against adverse economic times continuing growth in gold demand from these two nations, as it will in other countries in this densely populated part of the world with strong ethnic Indian and Chinese connections. 

Global peak gold production, will see total new mined output, currently pretty well flat, starting to diminish. (This is because cost cutting by major gold miners is seeing reductions in exploration budgets and a reluctance by shareholders to approve massive capital expenditures on new mega projects - not that there are many of these potential projects anyway).  Production falls are being borne out by the latest quarterly figures from most of the major global gold miners which had all previously been on the expansion trail.

The combination of ever-increasing overall demand due to population and growing GDP factors, coupled with a likely diminution of supply over the medium to long term, bodes well for the future of the gold price as a long term investment, but the full impact may yet be a couple of years away.

02 Aug 2018

About the author

Lawrence Williams

Lawrence (Lawrie) Williams is a well known London-based writer and commentator on financial and political subjects, but specialising in precious metals news and commentary. He is a qualified and experienced mining engineer having graduated in mining engineering from The Royal School of Mines, a constituent college of Imperial College, London – recently described as the World’s No. 2 University (after MIT).

e: lawrie.williams@sharpspixley.com

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