Central Banks

1 August, 2023

Highest first half on record for central bank gold demand

  • Central bank net buying slowed to 103t in Q2, down 35% y/y
  • Nevertheless, H1 central bank demand totalled 387t, the highest first half in our records back to 2000
  • Our latest annual survey results show central bank sentiment towards gold is still positive.
TonnesQ2'22Q2'23 y/y change
Central banks & others158.6102.9-35%

Source: Metals Focus, World Gold Council

Following a record-breaking start in Q1, central bank gold demand slowed significantly in Q2: global net purchases totalled 103t between April and June (-64% q/q, -35% y/y). But this has done little to diminish the strong overall central bank buying so far in 2023: H1 demand of 387t is the highest in our data series back to 2000. 


H1’23 central bank demand is the highest first half total on record*

GDT Q2 2023: Central Banks chart 1

*Data as of 30 June 2023. Quarterly data available from Q1 2000. Source: Metals Focus, Refinitiv GFMS, World Gold Council

Sources: Metals Focus, Refinitiv GFMS, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

*Data as of 30 June 2023. Quarterly data available from Q1 2000.

The slower pace of Q2 buying was due to a relatively lower volume of purchases combined with a much higher volume of sales, particularly from Turkey.1 Having been a leading buyer throughout most of Q1, the Central Bank of Turkey (TCMB) abruptly flipped to being a significant net seller in March.2 Selling continued in April and May before purchasing resumed in June – resulting in net Q2 sales of 132t.

The TCMB sold gold into the local market in response to very tight conditions following a temporary partial ban on gold bullion imports at a time of economic and political uncertainty resulting in very strong domestic gold demand.3 As such, we believe the selling was tactical rather than a strategic change in Turkey’s long-term gold policy. This view was reinforced by the TCMB resuming purchases in June. Aside from Turkey, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Germany sold a combined 25t in Q2.

Turkey’s gold reserves have fallen by a net 102t y-t-d, while seven other central banks reported  declines in their reserves at the end of H1. Kazakhstan (38t), Uzbekistan (19t), Cambodia (10t), Russia (3t), Germany (2t) – likely related to coin-minting – Croatia (2t) – due to a transfer to the ECB upon joining the eurozone – and Tajikistan (1t) were the other notable sellers, all of which highlight the scale of Turkish selling.

In contrast, nine central banks were net purchasers during the first half of 2023 – based on data available at the time of writing  – with three major buyers accounting for the bulk of the total. The People’s Bank of China reported adding 103t during H1, extending its monthly buying streak to eight months. Its gold reserves totalled 2,113t (4% of total reserves) at the end of June. The Monetary Authority of Singapore was the second largest buyer during H1, adding 73t, followed by the National Bank of Poland, which bought 48t. The six other H1 buyers all made significantly smaller purchases: India (10t), Czech Republic (8t), the Philippines (4t), Iraq (2t), the European Central Bank (2t) – related to the transfer of gold from Croatia as it joined the euro area – and Qatar (2t).


Substantial sales from Turkey impacted the H1 total*

GDT Q2 2023: Central Bank chart 2

*Data as of 30 June 2023 where available. Note: chart only includes net purchases/sales of a tonne or more. Source: IMF IFS, respective central banks, World Gold Council

Sources: IMF IFS, Respective central banks, World Gold Council; Disclaimer

*Data as of 30 June 2023 where available. Note: chart only includes net purchases/sales of a tonne or more.

Selling activity in Q2 has done little to dent the underlying positive trend in central bank gold demand. Findings from our latest Central Bank Gold Reserves Survey – now in its sixth year – shows sentiment towards gold remains positive. Seven in ten respondents believe that global gold reserves will rise over the next 12 months – a significant increase from last year's survey. As such, we remain optimistic on central bank gold demand over the coming quarters, although it is unlikely to match the levels of demand seen in H2 last year.


  1. Country-level gross sales and purchases are taken from the most recent IMF IFS, or data reported directly by individual central banks where relevant and available. These may not match the net central bank demand figures published in Gold Demand Trends, as Metals Focus uses additional sources of information to obtain its estimates.

  2. Turkey official sector gold reserves are the sum of central bank owned gold and Treasury gold holdings. This is equivalent to gross gold reserves less all gold held at the central bank in relation to commercial sector gold policies, such as the Reserve Option Mechanism (ROM), collateral, deposits and swaps. Please follow this link for information on this methodology: www.gold.org/download/file/16208/Central-bank-stats-methodology-technical-adjustments.pdf

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